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Malik did not record the fundamental principles on which he based his school and on whose basis
he derived his judgements and to which he limited himself in the derivation of his rulings. In that
respect he resembled his contemporary, Abu Hanifa, but not his student, ash-Shafi'i, who did record
the principles he used in derivation and defined them precisely, specifying the motives which
moved him to consider them and their position in deduction.

Nonetheless, Malik did indicate the principles he used in some of his fatwas, questions and the
hadiths which had muttasil (uninterrupted), munqati' (broken), or mursal (link missing) isnads and
balaghat (without isnad) hadith, even if he did not precisely explain his method or defend it or
explain the motives which moved him to adopt it and why he used that method rather than another.

For instance, the Muwatta' makes it clear to us that Malik uses mursal, munqati' and balaghat
hadiths but does not explain how he chose them because it does not go into the problems
concerning the isnads. The reason for this is that Malik only transmitted from people in whose
mursal and balaghat hadith he had absolute confidence. That is why his great concern was with the
choice of transmitter. When he had confidence in the character, intelligence and knowledge of the
transmitter he dispensed with the chain of narration.

Malik clearly stated that he took the practice of the people of Madina as a source and explained the
motives which led him to do so. The Muwatta' shows that he used it in making analogy, as he when
he made an analogy between the wife of a missing man when he returns to her after she has married
someone else and someone who divorces his wife with a revocable divorce and then takes her back
when she knows about the divorce but not the taking back and consequently remarries.

Thus in the Muwatta' you will see clear statements or indications of Malik's principles of derivation
even if he did not actually clarify or identify them specifically. For instance, he did not clarify the
rules and grades of the underlying legal principles ('illa) in analogy and such things.

The fuqaha' of the Maliki school have done with Malik's fiqh what the fuqaha' of the Hanafi school
have done with their school – studied the secondary rulings and derived from them what can validly
be employed as fundamental principles on which to base deduction. They called the principles they
derived in this way the 'fundamental principles (usul) of Malik'. For instance, they say that Malik
employed certain textual principles which they called'mafhum al-mukhalafa' (an interpretation
which diverges from the obvious meaning of a given text), 'fahwa al-khatab' (implied meanings of a
given text), and 'dhahir' (apparent meanings of a given text). They say that he also said certain
things about general unspecific texts. The truth is that although these principles are transmitted as
having been formulated by him, they are in fact derived from secondary judgements reported from
him; and the specific proofs of these principles are derived from the actual context or were
formulated by the fuqaha' who came after him. Deduction from texts can only validly be undertaken
when the necessary evidence exists.

We do not automatically have to accept these principles as being the usul of Malik's school since
they are the formulations of scholars who post-dated him but nor must we refute them simply
because they were not transmitted by Malik himself. We are bound, however, to reject those of
them which we think contradict any clear, firm statements he is definitely known to have made or
those which apply to some secondary rulings he made but not to most of them. Scholars deem that
established propositions should be adopted and respected unless the proof of their opposite is
established. In that case they have to be rejected because they have been proved invalid by clear
evidence not by simple denial.
These principles are mentioned in various places in the books on the science of usul which Malikis
have written or in the glosses which other Malikis have added to such books. They say about every
principle that Malik's opinion regarding it was such-and-such but that is in fact only deduced from
secondary rulings. In at-Tanqih, you will see that al-Qarafi mentions a principle and then mentions
Malik's opinion about it which may differ or agree with the majority view. The sum of those
opinions which comprise the usul of the Maliki school, whatever the strength of their ascription to
the Imam, is without a doubt the basis on which the positions of the Malikis are based and that from
which the judgements of those both in early and later times in that very productive school are

We will mention the usul in general and then we will go into some details to demonstrate the bases
for deduction in the Maliki school, the reason for its growth and spread, the great number of the
questions with which it deals and its suitability for various environments. We will attempt to clarify
the principles which are particular to it and which are considered to be one of the things which
distinguish it from other schools and give it a flexibility which is not found in other schools even
though it is a school founded on tradition more than the others.

In Tartib al-Madarik Qadi ÔIyad mentions the general foundations of Islamic fiqh which are: the
Noble Qur'an, its explicit texts (nusus), its apparent meanings (dhawahir) and implied meanings
(mafhumat); the Sunna – mutawatir (with multiple transmission), famous (mashhur) and single
hadiths; then consensus, and then analogy. Then he mentions the principles used by Malik and his

If you look straight away at the methods of these Imams and the establishment of their principles in
fiqh and ijtihad in the Shari'a, you will find that Malik pursued a clear methodology in respect of
these principles and ordered them according to their respective ranks. He put the Book of Allah first
and put the traditions with it, placing them before analogy and opinion. He left anything which was
not considered probable by reliable men known for their sound knowledge, or when he found that
the great majority of the people of Madina did something different and contrary to it. He did not pay
any attention to those who interpreted things according to their own opinions: explicitly declared
that such rulings were false and baseless. (Tartib al-Madarik, p. 16)

Qadi 'Iyad also lists the basic foundations of the school of Malik as being the Book and Sunna, the
practice of the people of Madina and qiyas (analogy), but he does not mention any others. He does
not mention ijma' (consensus) or the other methodological principles which distinguish the Maliki
school, such as masalih mursala, sadd adh-dhara'i', custom ('urf), and certain other principles
which other people have mentioned.

In the commentary on al-Bahja sixteen basic principles are listed:

• An explicit text (nass) of the Qur'an.

• A apparent (dhahir) text which is (an apparent meaning derived from a text which is general
and non-specific).
• An indicative (dalil) text, which may have an interpretation which diverges from its obvious
• An implicit (mafhum) text, which has an added meaning coinciding with its obvious
• An expositive (tanbih) text, which reports the underlying reason for a judgement (like the
statement 'it is filth').
• The same five categories in respect of the Sunna;
• Consensus (ijma').
• Analogy (qiyas).
• The practice of the people of Madina ('amal ahli'l-madina).
• A statement of a Companion (qawl as-sahabi)
• Judicial preference (istihsan)
• Blocking of the means (sadd adh-dhara'i').

There is disagreement about a seventeenth principle which is whether or not to take note of a
dispute (mura'a al-khilaf). Abu'l-Hasan said that istishab (presumption of continuance) is one of
them. (al-Bahja, p. 126, vol. 2)

This list is logical. An unequivocal text of the Qur'an, an apparent text, what is implied, its proof,
and its clarification are all connected to the same fundamental source, the Qur'an, and the same is
true of the same five elements when applied to the Sunna. They are mentioned individually because
they do not have the same weight where deduction is concerned. An apparent text of the Qur'an is
not as strong as an unequivocal text and a text which can have a divergent meaning is not as strong
as an apparent text and so forth.

In at-Tabaqat, as-Subki stated that there were more than five hundred fundamental principles in the
Maliki school. He may have been referring to the legal precepts derived from secondary rulings.
There is a distinction between them and the usul of the school. The usul are the sources for
deduction, the methods of deduction which also involves the strength and ranks of legal evidence
and which of them to prefer when they are in contradiction. Legal precepts (qawa'id) are general
precepts which clarify the method of exercising ijtihad in the school and the links which connect
minor cases. The precepts are later in their conceptual and actual existence than the secondary
rulings because the precepts are the derived unifying principle of the rulings.

In the case of the usul, it is clear that they must exist before the secondary branches because they
are the prerequisites which the faqih himself uses in his deduction. So the Qur'an is advanced before
the Sunna, the unequivocal text of the Qur'an is stronger than its dhahir text and all other
procedures used in making ijtihad. The fact that these principles are revealed by the secondary
ruling does not indicate that the secondary rulings precede them. Rather they were in existence
previous to them and the secondary rulings indicate and reveal them as the child indicates his
parent, the fruit indicates the plant, and the crop indicates the the type of seed.

The most precise enumeration of the principles of the Maliki school is that given by al-Qarafi in his
book Tanqih al-Usul. He stated that the foundational principles of the school are: the Qur'an, the
Sunna, the consensus of the people of Madina, analogy, the statement of the Companions, together
with masalih mursala (considerations of public interest), 'urf (custom), 'adat (common usage), sadd
adh-dhara'i' (blocking the means), istishab (presumption of continuity), and istihsan (discretion).

These are the fundamental principles of the Maliki school and we will discuss each of them and its
rank in deduction. Next we will discuss the Qur'an and the Sunna and nass texts, dhahir texts, dalil
texts and mafhum texts since Maliki fuqaha' ascribe these distinctions to Malik. Each of them has a
specific rank in deduction in the Book and Sunna as defined by the Maliki view.
The First Source: The Book of Allah

1. Explicit texts (nass) and apparent (dhahir) texts in the Qur'an

2. The Generally Applicable ('amm) and Specifically Applicable (khass)

3. Parallel meaning (lahn al-khitab) its superior meaning (fahwa) and implicit
meaning (mafhum)

4. Bayan al-Qur'an (Explication of the Qur'an)

According to ash-Shatibi al-Maliki in al-Muwafaqat:

"The Qur'an is the whole of the Shari'a, the support of religion, the fount of wisdom, the sign of
Prophethood and the light of the eyes and the heart. There is no way to Allah except through it and
there is no salvation by any other means than it. You must not hold to anything that contradicts it.
None of this needs affirmation or deduction because it is known to the deen of the Community.
Since that is the case, whoever wants complete knowledge of the Shari'a and desires to perceive its
aims and be joined to its adherents must necessarily take the Qur'an as his constant companion and
make it his intimate, night and day, in both investigation and action... If he is able to do that, he will
soon have students and find himself among the Frontrunners and in the first rank. He will not be
able to do it without being helped in that by the Sunna which clarifies the Book and, failing that, the
works of earlier Imams and the Salaf, which will guide him in this noble aim and lofty purpose." (p.
247, vol. 3)

Malik viewed the Qur'an in the same way. So he was only seen reciting the Qur'an or relating
hadiths or deriving fatwas from them to answer questions which were directed to him. He did not
look at the Qur'an with the eye of a debater. It is not reported that he ever said that the Qur'an
consisted of both words and meaning or meaning only; nor did he engage in any discussion of the
mutakallimun about the Qur'an being created since he did not consider such subjects to be
debatable. He believed that whenever a man argued with another, he cheapened that which Jibril
had revealed to Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

Malik knew that the Qur'an contains all the Shari'a and that the Sunna is simply its exposition. The
Qur'an cannot be understood correctly and completely unless the clarification which elucidates it,
the Sunna of the Prophet, is taken into account. He was thirsty for it, not merely because it was the
second Islamic source, but because it also clarifies and expounds the Qur'an and gives detail to what
is general and limits what is unrestricted.

The Qur'an is in Arabic and was revealed in the Arabic language. The people of eloquent Arabic
saw that its style was inimitable and were overwhelmed by it as all people are. However, it is in
Arabic, and Malik did not think that it was proper for anyone to try to explain it unless he had deep
knowledge of the Arabic language, its different dialects, and styles of speech. That is why it is
reported that he said, "No one who explains the Book of Allah who does not know the dialects of
the Arabs is brought to me without my making an example of him."
The Sunna is the straight way to grasp the meanings of the Book. That is why it is not correct to
hold only to the Qur'an without seeking help in its explanation, meaning the Sunna. Malik disliked
including any Biblical or Jewish (Talmudic) material in its explanation. He did not have confidence
in the transmission of anyone who proceeded in this way. He mentioned that there was excellence
in a certain person but criticised him for accepting tafsir from Qatada because he reckoned that
Qatada included in his tafsir much that was not sound.

Malik considered the Qur'an to consist of both expressions and meanings, which is the position and
consensus of the majority of Muslims, but he did not get involved in any wrangling or debate about
this. That is why he did not consider that a translation of the Qur'an could be used for recitation in
the prayer, or to be that for whose recitation there is prostration, or to be that whose copy may only
touched by someone who is pure, or to be that which may not be recited by a woman who is
menstruating or bleeding after childbirth or someone in a state of major impurity. A translation can
never be more than an explanation of the meaning or rather a partial explanation of what can be
understood from the Arabic original.

Scholars of the Maliki school mentioned that he used all the various degrees of textual
interpretation referred to above, just as he took note of those matters in the Sunna. We are obliged
to clarify the method and opinion of Malik concerning these matters in brief and his position in
respect of other opinions without going into excessive detail.

1. Explicit texts (nass) and apparent (dhahir) texts in the Qur'an

In the case of judgements taken from the Book of Allah, the researcher must study the Qur'an's
linguistic construction, the nature of its evidence, the meaning it conveys, the meaning which can be
understood from it but in a manner which is subsidiary to the meaning which would be normally be
clear from the expression, and what its aim is. Then one must identify its immediate and further
aims from what its expression indicates and what its indications allude to. Each piece of evidence
has its place in elucidation and a certain degree of strength. Derivation of judgements from it
requires recognition of all these factors in order to distinguish that which is more likely from that
which is not as strong.

That is why the scholars of usul who came after ash-Shafi'i were concerned with studying the
construction of the Qur'an as ash-Shafi'i had been, ascertaining the degrees and strength of evidence
and giving each its proper weight. From the secondary rulings of the Imams, they learned how they
had applied the textual evidence and how they favoured one kind of evidence over another when
they were contradictory and what the basis of that preference was.

One thing which these scholars were concerned with, whether Hanafi or Maliki, was to identify the
nass and dhahir texts of the Qur'an. They noted that in his secondary judgements Malik made use of
the difference between nass and dhahir texts, even if he did not clearly define and explain them. As
we have seen, according to al-Bahja, the nass and dhahir of the Qur'an were among his legal
proofs. The Malikis state that they do not possess the same level of proof when making a
judgement, the nass being stronger than the dhahir, as they deduce from the secondary judgements
transmitted from Malik. The scholars of the Maliki principles say that the difference between
explicit, unequivocal texts (nass) and apparent texts (dhahir) is that nass texts are not open to
interpretation whereas dhahir texts are.

Before we clarify the potential for interpretation or lack of it, we should first indicate the difference
between the nass and the dhahir which ash-Shafi'i did not discuss in his Risala, as be considered
nass and dhahir to be basically indistinguishable. Al-Ghazali said ash-Shafi'i adopted linguistic
usage and there is nothing in the Shari'a to prevent him doing that. Linguistically nass means
manifestation (dhuhur), used, for instance, to describe a gazelle when it raises its head so that it can
be seen, so he defined it as meaning the the same thing as dhahir. Thus a text can be considered
both dhahir and nass. (al-Mustasfa, pt. 1, p. 384)

It can be seen from this that ash-Shafi'i did not differentiate between the dhahir and nass, but
scholars after him did because the secondary legal rulings derived by the fuqaha' before and after
him require a differentiation to be made between the two types of texts: one whose evidence is so
strong that no probability is applicable to it nor can any other judgement possibly be derived from
it, and the other whose meaning is obvious but which allows of another possibility, even though
when someone hears it the other possibility does not in fact come to mind. So each text does have a
rank in deduction and there is nothing to prevent names being given to them to indicate their rank
and clarify the position of each of them in respect of the other.

Those fuqaha' who make a distinction say that the nass text is of two kinds:

* A nass text is one which does not give rise to any other possibility at all, like the word 'five' which
cannot mean six or four.

* A nass text is one which does not admit of any other possibility arising from deduction.

As al-Ghazali, al-Qarafi and others mentioned, in evidence a dhahir text wavers between two or
more possibilities, but one of them is indicated more than the others so that it comes to mind when
it is heard. In this respect, it is distinct from what is commonly known as an undefined (mujmal)
text. A mujmal text wavers between two or more possibilities, none of them being stronger than the
others. It is known as undefined because the basic expression can legitimately support more than
one meaning, like the word qar' which can have two meanings in its basic form: purity or
menstruation. If it is mentioned out of a context which specifies one or the other of them, it is

There is also the case when the reason for the lack of definition in a text is due to something other
than the linguistic form, as in the case of the words of the Almighty, "Pay its due on the day of its
harvest" (6:141). It is obvious that this refers to the obligation of zakat because it clarifies that the
poor have a right to some of it. That does not leave scope for doubt. But the amount which must be
paid is not made clear and might equally well be either a small or large fraction of the total.
Something like this is not known as either nass or dhahir but as mujmal. That is why the amount
the must be clarified and the Sunna comes and makes it clear that the amount referred to is a tenth.

This applies to all texts which are mujmal whether they are undefined on account of their linguistic
form or for some other reason and clarification of them can only be gained from factual evidence
from the Sunna or another source. Once a mujmal text has been clarified, it then becomes like a nass
or a dhahir text based on the strength of the clarification.

A dhahir text may be connected to something which will stipulate one of two possibilities and is
then elevated from the level of preference to the level of absolute and certain. That is when
clarification from the Sunna or the Qur'an is added to it which turns the probable interpretation into
a nass.

Maliki fuqaha' state that the evidentiary status of a generally applicable text ('amm) usually falls
into the category of dhahir, not that of nass. That is why al-Qarafi used general expressions as
examples of the dhahir. He said, "When one meaning of an 'amm text is preferred to other possible
meanings, however few or many there may be, then that text is called dhahir, although it is still
general since it is inclusive. Thus the expression in it is dhahir but not specific (khass)." If an 'amm
text has nothing in it to indicate that its generality is of the nature of dhahir evidence, then Malik
considers it to be probabilistic (zanni) as does ash-Shafi'i, which he makes clear in his Risala. We
should at this point briefly examine the notion of 'amm (generally applicable) and khass
(specifically applicable) texts.

2. The Generally Applicable (amm) and Specifically Applicable (khass)

Al-Qarafi defined an 'amm text as one with a universal meaning which includes everything to which
it is applicable. So anything which has the name 'amm applied to it includes within its general
definition everything which that term could normally be said to encompass. When you say that the
adult human being is legally responsible for the prayer, zakat and hajj, everyone to whom the name
'adult human being' can be applied is included in this judgement. When Allah says that the thief has
his hand cut off, then, according to this statement, all with this quality, which is theft, merit this

When the judgement concerning the 'amm in an expression is not applied to everything
encompassed by it but only partially, it becomes specific (khass). This is shown in the words of the
Almighty, "free a believing slave" (4:92) and "set free a slave before they may touch one another."
(58:3) The expression in both cases is specific because it does not apply to all those who have this
description, but only to one of them, even though the first is limited by a certain quality
('believing'), while the second is not.

The Maliki view of 'amm texts is distinct from the Hanafi view in two ways: definition and
judgement. The definition of 'amm in the books of the Hanafis is an expression which includes
everything encompassed by it, whether it is by the outward form of the words or the meaning, like
"Zayds" meaning everyone with that name, or similar nouns which indicate generality, like 'people',
'jinn', 'mankind' etc. which indicate plurals. The khass, on the other hand, is an expression which
applies to only one meaning , i.e. it is an expression with one meaning which other things do not
share, whether that meaning designates a species, like an animal, or a type, like a man or a person
like Zayd. So the named which is one and not multiple is khass.

You see from this that there is a clear difference between the two types of definition. The first
designates every universal which has a shared meaning. The second considers it to be a collection
of individual things which are included in the phrase or meaning.

The second difference, which is in judgement, lies in the fact that the Malikis consider the evidence
of an 'amm text to be general unless it is accompanied by some sort of context which would render
it dhahir. The Hanafis consider the 'amm text to be absolutely 'amm and unaffected by any

Scholars disagree about the definitiveness of the khass. Thus its rank in evidence is stronger with
those who judge that the 'amm text is evidentially equivalent to the dhahir text since they also
believe that the definitive evidence of the khass is of the same category as nass. The evidence of a
nass text is stronger than that of a dhahir text, as you know, but the Hanafis consider them to be the
same. That is why if they find a contradiction between a khass and 'amm text, given that they are
contemporaneous, then the khass makes the 'amm specific so that they are both acted on
simultaneously. That is one of the means of harmonisation which is adopted if nothing else is
feasible. If there is a gap in time between them, the later of the two abrogates the earlier no matter
whether the later is 'amm or khass. The Hanafis think that the 'amm can abrogate the khass, while
others disagree with them about that.

Most scholars think that even if the evidence of an 'amm text is considered to extend to all of its
units by fuqaha' to the extent that that almost amounts to a consensus, it is still open to
specification, i.e. some of its units can be made specific if there is evidence for that. Precise
scholars, however, consider that specification does not exclude some of the units of the 'amm from
the 'amm judgement after they were included in it. Rather it is the clarification of the will of the
Lawgiver that they were specified from the very beginning and that the units which the general
expression included in the basic linguistic position were not in fact all included in the evidence from
the very beginning. In al-Mustasfa, al-Ghazali clarifies this: "It is permitted to say that 'amm
evidence has been made khass ... This khass evidence defines the will of the speaker and that by the
expression a particular meaning is specified. According to this, specification is clarification which
moves the wording of a text from being 'amm to being khass and the context makes it clear that the
expression is figurative rather than literal."

This is, in fact, the basis of the difference between making an 'amm text khass and abrogating it
since abrogation actually changes confirmed judgements. When an 'amm judgement or part of it is
abrogated, then the judgement which was fixed for certain units changes. Making it khass prevents
the inclusion of units which were never in fact part of the original 'amm judgement in the first place.
It confines the definition of the 'amm to certain of the units embraced by its wider meaning.

According to the strength of the evidence in the expression of the 'amm in its basic form, that which
is specified can be a little or a lot. For those who deem that in its basic form, its evidence in respect
of the generality of its units is unequivocal, the things specified are few because only that which has
the same weight of definiteness can be elevated to the rank of specification. Therefore they consider
the general statements of the Noble Qur'an to be unequivocal in their evidence and unequivocal in
their firmness. So they are can only be rendered specific by that which has the same rank as them in
both cases. On that basis, they think that the hadiths of individuals do not make the 'amm of the
Qur'an khass. Its generality is accepted and the hadiths are rejected because individual hadiths are
probable in their firmness, even if they are unequivocal in their evidence, and the Hanafis consider
the generalities of the Qur'an as unequivocal in both cases.

As for those who deem that the evidence of the 'amm is probable, they widen the scope of what can
render it specific, and individual hadiths are part of what they consider can make the 'amm text of
the Qur'an specific in certain cases because while their certainty is probable, the 'amm of the Qur'an
is probable in its evidence, and the probable can render the probable specific.

You know that the Malikis state that Malik believed that the evidence of the 'amm on the generality
of the units had the force of the dhahir, not that of the nass and that the evidence of the dhahir is
probable and not unequivocal because it does not forbid probability. That is why he considered
many things to be rendered khass since the possibility of specification is immediate and not remote
according in his view.

Al-Qarafi mentioned that Malik thought that there were fifteen modes in which the 'amm was
rendered khass. He said: "Its forms of specification are fifteen in the view of Malik". (Tanqih, p. 90)

Perhaps this great number will cause astonishment. He made the area of making the 'amm a wide
one. However, although we acknowledge that the specifications of general texts are undoubtedly
numerous in the Maliki school, we admit that this number, fifteen, includes things which most
people do not consider to be part of specification. They things are not normally considered as
specifications, but actual circumstances of how the verbal usage is applied to the general, and thus
we move it from fact to metaphor. Similarly they include: the exception, the precondition, the
attribute, and the end. These are specifications in speech and speech is only complete with them.
They are not distinct. That is why the Hanafis do not consider them to be part of specifications. This
is why it is not valid to accuse the Malikis over these matters because others accept them, even if
they do not call them that. Thus it is not the qualification of the 'amm in a position of dispute. What
is disputed is what is called specification.

After that there are eight matters, four of which are also agreed upon by the fuqaha'. They are:
specification of the Book by the Book, and by mutawatir Sunna, and the mutawatir Sunna by the
Book and by its like. This is also not held against Malik because in it he is in agreement with other
fuqaha'. There is consensus on this except for the specification of the Sunna by the Book with
which ash-Shafi'i disagrees. The dispute is about the specification of the Book by consensus,
analogy, single reports, and custom. We will speak on the difference between Malik and others in
each of these matters.

The difference between him and others in using consensus to make the Book specific is
insignificant. Indeed, discussion on it is negligible. There are generalities in the Qur'an which the
people of knowledge among the Companions, Followers and those who came after them agree are
rendered specific by reliable evidence. They include the words of the Almighty, "Or what your
right hands own." It is general and is becomes specific when one excludes from it the milk-sister
and other women it is forbidden to marry. Here I consider that it is the Noble Qur'an which specifies
it. That is His words, "Forbidden to you are your mothers..." So here the prohibition is general and
includes the prohibition by contract and the prohibition by intercourse. This is why people agree on
that. It is not specification by consensus. Here the specification is the place of consensus and it is
the Qur'an which specifies the Qur'an.

As we stated, this is not that important. That is also the case with the specification of the 'amm by
single traditions which are supported by something else, as we will clarify when discussing the
Sunna. Malik did not adopt this absolutely nor was he the only to adopt it. Indeed ash-Shafi'i
adopted it after him and he states that he derived from the fiqh of Malik that the 'amm can be a
probable proof. If its evidence is probable, then the probable single report makes it specific because
the probable can specify the probable. As for the Iraqis who state that the 'amm is unequivocal
before its specification, and that when it is specified, it becomes probable and can validly be
specified by single reports, they do not put single reports in the rank of the unequivocal 'amm. It is
that which cannot be made khass, and those are matters in which fiqh of the people Madina differs
from the fiqh of the people of Iraq. Malik and the Madinans after him state that it is permitted to
make the 'amm specific by single traditions unrestrictedly, and the Iraqis forbid that single traditions
specify the 'amm of the Qur'an before there is specification by something else. By the Madinans we
mean those who came after Malik and followed the method of the Madinans like ash-Shafi'i.

There remain two other matters. They are making the 'amm of the Qur'an specific through analogy
and making the 'amm of the Qur'an specific by custom. These are two matters which should be
looked at again. Malik, or to to be more precise, Maliki fiqh, almost alone has them to the exclusion
of other fuqaha', revealing the extent of opinion of Malik's fiqh and that he was a faqih in both
opinion and tradition.

Regarding analogy, al-Qarafi said, "Ash-Shafi'i, Abu Hanifa, al-Ash'ari and Abu'l-Hasan al-Basri
agree with us about analogy being unrestricted (i.e. whether clear or hidden). 'Isa ibn Aban said that
if it is specified by an unequivocal proof, then it is permitted. Otherwise it is not. Al-Karkhi said
that if it is specified with separate evidence, then it is permitted. Otherwise it is not. Ibn Shurayh
and many of the Shafi'is say that it is permitted when it is not hidden and they disagree about what
is evident. It is said that it is analogy of meaning, and it is said that it is analogy of like. It is said
that the evident is that whose cause is understood like the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, "The qadi should not render judgement when he is angry." It is said that
whatever impairs judgement is judging by other than it. Al-Ghazali said, 'If they are equal, we
agree. Otherwise there is preference.' Qadi Abu Bakr and the al-Juwayni hesitated. This is when the
basis of analogy is mutawatir. If it is a single report, then the disagreement is stronger." (Tanqih, p.

This is what al-Qarafi mentioned about the disagreement of the fuqaha' regarding the specification
of the 'amm of the Noble Qur'an by analogy. In it he stated that Malik believed that the 'amm of the
Qur'an was specified by analogy, whether the basis of the analogy was single or mutawatir reports
and whether the analogy was evident or hidden. Then he mentioned the opinion of those who
disagreed with that.

We notice that his words about the opinions of those opposed to it are not accurate and precise. He
mentioned first that Abu Hanifa believed that analogy specifies the Qur'an unrestrictedly. That was
not transmitted from Abu Hanifa since the usul were not transmitted from him, but from those who
derived his opinion from the secondary branches in his school – especially 'Isa ibn Aban and Abu'l-
Hasan al-Karkhi. No one deduced that the opinion of Abu Hanifa about making the general specific
is that analogy makes it specific before something else makes it specific.

Secondly he mentioned that al-Karkhi's opinion was that it is permitted if it is made specific by
something separate, then after that it can be made specific by analogy. The truth is that the Hanafis
believe that specification is only by something separate as we mentioned. The precondition,
attribute and other things connected to the word itself are called qualifications and not
specifications. There is no disagreement between al-Karkhi and 'Isa ibn Aban on that.

Thirdly he mentioned that ash-Shafi'i thought that analogy rendered the general specific. We find
that in the Risala and in the Kitab Jima' al-'Ilm, ash-Shafi'i advances the nass before analogy. He
says: "Knowledge has two aspects: following and deduction. Following is to follow the Book of
Allah Almighty. If not, then the Sunna. If not, then the position of the Salaf which is not known to
be disputed. If not, then analogy based on the Book of Allah. If not, then analogy based on the
Sunna of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. If not, then analogy
based on a position of the Salaf not known to be disputed. The statement is only valid by analogy.
When those who have analogy make analogy, they disagree and it is permitted for each to speak
according to the extent of his ijtihad. If he cannot do so, then he follows someone else in his

So we see that ash-Shafi'i thinks that the science of analogy is the science of deduction, and that
knowledge of the Book and the Sunna, even if the expression is general, is the science of following.
He does not think that deduction is used when following is possible.

After this, al-Qarafi mentioned the proof of the school which the Malikis favour: it is that the 'amm
can be made specific by analogy, and the examination of the secondary rulings transmitted from
Malik led to them saying that it was his position. That proof is based on the fact that analogy is
reliable evidence, like unequivocal texts. Even though every analogy on its own is based on text, the
principle is connected to the secondary ruling on the basis of the underlying reason for the
judgement in it. Analogy is a comprehensive principle which takes the other principles into
According to this, when the general in its generality is in conflict with the judgement necessitated
by analogy, then two principles clash: one is general and its evidence admits of probability, even if
it is preferred, and the second is specific and there is no probability in its evidence. One of the
established rules is that when two principles clash, and one of them has a probable indication and
the evidence of the other contains no probability, then you take the one which has no probability.
Utilisation is better than disregarding, and so acting on both together is better than disregarding one
of them. It is clear that using analogy and making the general specific is to act by both of them
because the general remains acted on in what remains after specification. If we deny the
specification, that disregards analogy and denies the continuity of its underlying reason in that place
without any reason which necessitates that. There is no impediment to prevent action since the
evidence of the general is probabilistic.

That proof can be made clear by an example, which is found in the words of the Almighty: "Allah
has made trade lawful and usury unlawful." (2:275) Its literal generality demands that it is lawful to
sell rice for rice with disparity and on delay because it is trade, which is lawful by the generality.
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade selling gold for gold,
dates for dates, or barley for barley, except like for like, hand to hand, which necessitates an
analogy based on it which forbids selling rice for rice because it is like grain for grain in the cause
which demands the prohibition of disparity and delay. If the general text of the Qur'an had not been
made specific, that analogy would be disregarded. If we make it specific, we use analogy, and then
the evidence of the ayat becomes a clear declaration about the other goods which the hadith
mentions and those like them.

This is the argument of the Malikis, or most of them, about analogy making the general text
specific. We can examine it from several aspects:

One: Its basis is that the evidence of 'amm probably indicates the generality, but its evidence
includes probability which does not actually originate with the evidence. We explained that ash-
Shatibi did not take that line because that would undermine legal evidence and weaken the
generality of unequivocal texts unnecessarily, and because the evidence of expressions must be
considered as general unless there is evidence to the contrary, and then only the probable which
originates from evidence is considered. That is the view of the Iraqis and it is the strongest.

Two: In the Shari'a one only moves to analogy when the mujtahid lacks an unequivocal text. Here
there is analogy while a text exists. That nullifies some of what is understood from the text. That is
the opposite of the proper order and it proceeds on other than what is fixed and confirmed in matters
of the Shari'a.

Three: The hadith mentioned does not make the text specific through analogy because the selling
of usurious materials is outside of the generality of what is lawful. The Almighty says, "He has
made usury unlawful." The comprehensiveness of the lawful does not include selling rice for rice. It
is not specified by analogy; it is a specification by Qur'anic text. Hadith and analogy clarify things
subject to usury. Thus that which specifies is the Qur'an and not analogy. The difference between
the two is immense because according to the Maliki interpretation, analogy nullifies the generality
of the ayat, and according to what we say that which makes the generality of the ayat specific is the
Qur'an, and the text and its cause clarify the Qur'anic text.

Four: It supposes that the evidence of the analogy is unambiguous even though there is a conflict in
the qualities, and the cause which is derived from them is probable in its evidence and the basis on
which analogy is based is probable, and so it is probablistic in its level of support.
The scarcity of sound hadiths in Iraq motivated the Iraqis to use Qur'anic texts with the widest
possible comprehensiveness, and they relied on its generalities and proceeded in their legal methods
on that basis. In the fiqh of the Imam of Madina, Malik, we see that the Madinans or the Malikis
who inherited the knowledge of the Madinans, restricted the generality of the texts and used
analogy to make specific the generality of the Qur'an and hadith.

Do we not see in this that the Madinans, led by their Shaykh Malik, may Allah be pleased with him,
made use of a great of fiqh of opinion (fiqh ar-ra'y)? If Malik is considered one of the fuqaha' of
opinion, that does not lessen the fact that Abu Hanifa was one of those who used opinion. Although
the two methods are different, the end is the same, and there is no disagreement in the end.

This is about rendering the general text of the Qur'an specific by analogy. As for making the general
of the Qur'an specific by custom ('adat), this is something on which the Malikis said there is
consensus among the fuqaha'. What is meant by custom which makes words specific is verbal
custom, i.e. the specific linguistic usage which governed usage in the time when the Qur'an was
revealed: what the Muslims understood and what was encompassed by usage of things which
qualify it because that usage qualifies the word. Al-Qarafi says about that:

"The rule is that if an expression has a customary meaning and usage, then its expression is applied
according to its usage. If the speaker is the Shari'a, then we apply its expression to its customary
usage and we make the general expressions in that specific if custom demands that they be specific,
or metaphorical if it requires the metaphor and we leave what is factual. In general, the indication of
customary usage precedes the indication of the language because the custom abrogates the language
and the abrogating precedes the abrogated. As for new customs which arise after articulation, they
are not imposed on that articulation. The articulation is unaffected by the contradiction of the new.
An example is when a sales contract takes place: the price is applied to the current custom in money
and any customs in money which arise after that are not considered in this prior sale. It is like that
with vows, confessions and bequests. When the customs arise after them, they are not considered.
Customs are considered which are connected to them. It is the same with the unequivocal texts of
the Shari'a - they are only affected by customs connected to them." (Tanqih p. 194)

The custom which makes general texts specific is the custom of those addressed by the text. The
usage allows the listeners to understand what is meant by the words restricts what is understood
from the forms in its general linguistic meaning. This practical view is called verbal custom,
elucidation, or the customary usage of the speakers. Ash-Shatibi says about this:

"The generality is interpreted by usage. The aspects of usage are many, but they are governed by the
exigencies of circumstances which are the basis of clear declaration. The words of the Almighty,
'Destroying everything at its Lord's command' (46:25) does not mean that the heavens, earth,
mountains, waters and similar things will be destroyed. What is meant is that everything will be
destroyed which is subject to what effects it in general. That is why the Almighty then says, 'When
morning came you could see nothing but their dwellings.'" (al-Muwaqafat, pt. 3, p. 271)

We see from these words that making the general specific by customary usage or custom is
something on which there is consensus because it is only explaining the words according to
customary usage. That is not unusual.

There is something which makes the general specific which some of the Malikis mention which al-
Qarafi did not mention in this chapter. That is the al-masalih al-mursala (public welfare). Some
Malikis mention that it makes the general specific. In Ahkam al-Qur'an Ibn al-'Arabi mentioned in
the tafsir of the words of the Almighty, "Mothers should nurse their children for two full years -
those who wish to complete the full term of nursing," (2:233) that Malik said that when a woman is
noble, she is not bound to suckle her child if it will accept the breast of another for the benefit of
preserving her beauty according to the custom of the Arabs in that. That makes the general text of
the Qur'an specific.

We will leave discussion of that for the section on masalih mursala.


This is a brief survey of the dhahir and nass and their position in deduction with Malik. We have
discussed the general and specific since they state that the evidence of the 'amm falls into the
category of dhahir and the evidence of the khass falls into the category of nass. That is why when
there is something general and something specific in a subject, the general is applied according to
the specific. It specifies it because when there is a conflict, the nass is advanced before the dhahir
and so the specific is advanced before the general and is regarded as specifying it.

The Iraqis do not hold that view. They consider the general to have the force of the specific in
respect of evidence, and that when the specific and general clash, they consider that the earlier is
abrogated by the later, whether the later is specific or general. If they are from the same time, then
the specific is considered to specify the general inasmuch as the temporal connection is a factor
which makes the general not a nass in its general meaning. Even though it is absolute in its evidence
that does not preclude a possibility which originates from evidence indicated by the temporal
connection which makes it specific (khass).

Now we will move on to the meanings which are deduced from the Qur'an and the Sunna. These
are: parallel meaning (lahn al-khitab), which is the necessary inference (dalalat al-iqtida') or the
intended sense of words, and that whose understanding a divergent meaning or one which is
consistent with it.

3. Parallel meaning (lahn al-khitab) its superior meaning (fahwa) and implicit
meaning (mafhum)

These are three technical terms which clarify the type of evidence provided by some expressions of
the Noble Qur'an and the Sunna. All of them are used by Malik when they are not contradicted by
the dhahir and nass of Qur'an. That is why it is incumbent on us to define them briefly and make
their meaning clear and we will give examples which clarify what the scholars of usul mean by

As for parallel meaning (lahn al-khitab), which some scholars designate as the 'necessary inference'
(the Hanafis), it refers to what is entailed by the expression. That is like the words of the Almighty,
"So We revealed to Musa, 'Strike the sea with your staff.' And it split in twoÉ" (26:63) Speech
demands an implied elided word which is "He struck" and the sea split. In the Sunna it is found in
the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Error and forgetfulness have
been removed from my community and what they are forced to." There is no removal of a thing
until it occurs and so there must be something implied to rectify the words. What is implied is that it
is a sin. So the meaning of the statement is, "The sin of error and forgetfulness have been removed
from my communityÉ." So the judgement indicated by the hadith here is Necessary Inference
because it brings something which is implied and elided and the statement is only complete by its
As for what is implicit, which is called mafhum al-mukhalafa: or an interpretation which diverges
from the obvious meaning of a given text, the Malikis call it the 'indication (dalil) of speech'. It
confirms the opposite of what is said although it is unspoken, as the Prophet, may Allah bless him
and grant him peace, said: "There is zakat on freely grazing sheep." His words indicate the
obligation of zakat on freely grazing sheep and it is understood from it that zakat is not obliged on
other than freely grazing sheep.

Some scholars divide mafhum al-mukhalafa (divergent meaning) into ten categories in respect of
the qualification. The basis of mafhum al-mukhalafa is that the words are qualified, and so the
judgement is affirmed in the state which contains the qualification and the opposite is affirmed in
that which does not have the qualification. There are ten qualifications and so mafhum al-mukhalafa
has ten categories: what is understood from the cause like, "Whatever intoxicates is unlawful"; what
is understood from the attribute like the previous hadith about zakat; what is understood from the
precondition like "The prayer of whoever is pure is sound"; what is understood from the end is like
the words of the Almighty "Complete the fast until night" (2:187); what is understood from the
exception like the words of the Almighty, "Never again accept them as witnesses. Such people are
the wantonly deviant, except for those who after that repent..." (24:4); what is understood from
inclusion, like water is part of water; what is understood from time; what is understood from place;
what is understood from number like the words of the Almighty, "Flog them with eighty lashes"
(24:4) i.e. more is not permitted; and what is understood from title, i.e. name, like there is zakat on

These are the categories of divergent meaning. The Hanafis only accept the exception and inclusion
among them, and they do not consider that to be part of implicit evidence. They consider it part of
what is spoken because inclusion and exception contain negation and affirmation. If someone says,
"The speaker on," he negates and affirms by the spoken phrase. It is the same with the exception.
The affirmation of the opposite is not part of the category of what is unspoken. It is part of what is
spoken. They disagree about other things because they do not acknowledge the basis of the
derivation is from the spoken word or that it is necessitated by the implication of what is spoken or
that what is affirmed as binding is dependent on what is spoken. That by which the divergent
meaning is not one of these things.

The Malikis say that what is implicit is evidence except for what is understood by title. They said in
the argument for its exclusion: "The difference between what is implied by title and other forms of
what is implied is that other forms, like what is implied by the attribute and so forth, smack of
causation. The attribute, the precondition and their like accord the sensation of causation and that
which implies no cause demands the lack of effect. So there must be no judgement regarding that
which is unspoken, which is what is implied. The title is a marker and it is connected to the generic
nouns. So there is a difference between the words of the Prophet, 'There is zakat on freely grazing
sheep' and his words, 'There is zakat on sheep.' The first makes one aware of the cause and the
second does not. This is the reason for its inclusion." (Sharh at-Tanqih, p. 119)

The precondition for accepting what is implied by the attribute is that it follows the predominant
custom, like the words of the Almighty in the ayat of the prohibition of women, "Your
stepdaughters who are under your protection, being the daughters of your wives you have had
sexual relations with." (4:23) We see here two attributes: one is mentioned by way of prevailing
custom. Mentioning it does not indicate the affirmation of the opposite of the judgement when it
does not exist - which is lawfulness. It is their being under protection. The other is not of this type.
He mentioned it as affirming the opposite of the judgement. It is that of the mothers with whom he
has sexual relations.
The superior meaning (fahwa), which is what the Hanafis call the "inferred or implied meaning of a
text" (dalala an-nass) or the indication of the most appropriate or harmonious meaning, or clear
analogy in the definition of some fuqaha'. It is when the spoken judgement establishes that about
which it is silent since that judgement is even more appropriate. It has two categories:

One: Affirmation of what is greater since it is established in what is less because a lot increases the
strength of the judgement, like the words of the Almighty, "Do not say 'Uff' to them, and do not
chide them." (17:23) That extends to hitting, which is more likely to be forbidden than saying 'uff'
and it has greater harm. That is the reason for the prohibition.

Two: The affirmation of the judgement in a little because a little necessitates strength of judgement
which is not found in a lot, like the words of the Almighty, "Among the People of the Book there
are some who, if you trust them with a pile of gold, will return it to you. But there are others among
them who, if you trust them with a single dinar, will not return it to you," (3:75) because whoever is
trusted with a lot can be trusted with a little. Whoever is trusted with a pile can be trusted with a
dinar. This example includes both categories.

These are the forms of evidence of the Noble Qur'an and their strength and rank in deduction with
Malik. First is the unequivocal text (nass), then the dhahir, then that by which a harmonious
meaning is implicit (mafhum al-muwafaqa) and then the implicit divergent meaning (mafhum al-
mukhalafa). But into which category do we place the explication (bayan) of the Qur'an in general
and detail? We must speak briefly on it:

4. Bayan al-Qur'an (Explication of the Qur'an)

The Noble Qur'an is the first source of this Shari'a and it is its totality from which its roots and
branches are derived and evidence is taken from it by the strength of deduction based on it. Since
the Qur'an is like that, its declaration of the Shari'a must be undefined (mujmal) and require details,
and its judgements general which need to be clarified. That is why help must be sought in the Sunna
to derive some judgements from it, to clarify the general if it is undefined, or to confirm what in it
needs clarification by its confirmation in the hearts of the believers.

The one who examines the Qur'anic ayats which clarify legal judgements will find some
judgements which do not require explanation, like the ayat of slander, which is the words of the
Almighty: "But those who make accusations against chaste women and then do not produce four
witnesses: flog them with eighty lashes and never again accept them as witnesses. Such people are
the wantonly deviant..." (24:4)

It is also like that with the ayat which clarifies the li'an divorce and how it is done. That is the
words of the Almighty: "Those who make an accusation against their wives and have no witnesses
except themselves, the legal proceeding of such a one is to testify four times by Allah that he is
telling the truth and a fifth time that Allah's curse will be upon him if he is lying. And the
punishment is removed from her if she testifies four times by Allah that he is lying and a fifth time
that Allah's anger will be upon her if he is truthful." (24:6-9)

In this ayat the li'an is explained as well as the circumstances in which it is obliged. The Sunna
clarified what results from it.

Some of the ayats of the Qur'an connected to judgements require clarification when they are
undefined and require details, or something is hidden in them which requires explaination or
interpretation, or they are unqualified and then are qualified. Scholars agree that the Sunna is that
which clarifies them, and the fuqaha' of Madina and the fuqaha' of Iraq concur on that. If there is a
difference between them, it is that the people of Iraq limit the places where clarification is needed
and the fuqaha' of Madina widen its scope. According to the Iraqis the specific does not need
clarification in the Qur'an and they consider every clarification of it as superfluous. So all that
comes in the Sunna connected to its subject is superfluous to it and not accepted unless it is firm.
The fuqaha' of Madina and those who follow their path believe that all that is sound of tradition in
one of the subjects which the Qur'an mentions clarifies it, makes its general specific, limits what is
unrestricted, or clarifies its specific.

In fact the Sunna is the clarification of the laws of Noble Qur'an. So zakat, fasting, the prayer and
hajj are all laws which have come in general and are clarified by the Sunna. Usury and its
categories have come in the Qur'an in general and the Sunna clarifies them. Many of the rules of
marriage come in general and the Sunna clarifies them. It is then clarification of the Qur'an and its
interpretation. Allah Almighty says, "We revealed the Reminder to you to make clear to people
what was revealed to them." (16:44) That is why it says in the books of ash-ShafiÔi, the student of
Malik, that the Book and the Sunna are considered as a single source, the first of sources and its
The Second Source: The Sunna

1. The Shari'a of the Sunna in relation to the Noble Qur'an

2. Riwaya (Transmission) in Malik's view

3. Opinion (Ra'y) and Hadith from Malik

There is no dispute that Malik was an Imam in hadith and fiqh: a transmitter of the first rank in
hadith and a faqih with insight into fatwa and the deduction of judgements. His transmission of
hadith is also considered one of the soundest of transmissions, particularly in his choice of
transmitters and knowledge of the accuracy of their transmission. He was a faqih with insight into
fatwa and derivation of judgements, analogy of similar things, recognition of the welfare of people,
and what fatwas are appropriate without being far from the text nor shunning what is transmitted of
cases and fatwas ascribed to the righteous Salaf.

Some people criticised the riwaya of ash-Shafi'i and Abu Hanifa. In spite of their prejudice, they
were not able say anything about Malik's transmission. Some scholars, including at-Tabari, deny
that Ahmad ibn Hanbal was a faqih and said that he was a only a muhaddith and not a faqih. Malik
alone is a muhaddith who is counted in the first rank by consensus and a faqih with insight into the
subjects of fatwas and its sources by consensus. This is a confirmed and established matter on
which there is agreement among the scholars of hadith and fiqh.

Imam al-Bukhari, whose book come to be considered the soundest of the books in hadith and the
strongest of them in attribution considers the isnad of Malik in some hadiths as the soundest isnad.
It is: Malik from Abu'z-Zinad from al-A'raj from Abu Hurayra.

Abu Dawud, the author of the Sunan, says, "The strongest isnad is: Malik from Nafi' from Ibn
'Umar, then Malik from az-Zuhri from Salim from his father; then Malik from Abu'z-Zinad from al-
A'raj from Abu Hurayra, and he did not mention anyone except Malik.

This testimony from the people of this science indicates that two things place him in the first rank of
hadith scholars:

1. He himself is reliable. He is just and accurate and there is no way to attack his transmission
in respect of his person or his accuracy. People have spoken against others in that respect.
2. He was excellent in selecting those from whom he transmitted. He and his men from whom
he related are in the first rank since al-Bukhari considers him and some of his men to have
the soundest isnad, and Abu Dawud considers him and his men in the first three ranks in the
strength of isnad. He is reliable and excellent in the measure of men by the testimony of the
people of skill and precision who know this business.

He was strict about the preconditions of good character and accuracy in his transmitters.

1. The Shari'a of the Sunna in relation to the Noble Qur'an

There are three ways in which the Sunna clarifies and complements the Qur'an.

1: It directly confirms the judgements of the Qur'an; in this case it adds nothing new whatsoever,
nor does it clarify something unclear or limit something which is unrestricted or specify something
referred to in general terms like: "fast when you see it and break the fast when you see it." This
hadith is confirmation of the Qur'an and reinforces the words of the Almighty: "The month of
Ramadan is the one in which the Qur'an was revealed." (2:185)

2: The Sunna also casts light on the intention of the Qur'an and limits some things which are
unrestricted in the Book and gives detailed form to some matters which are undefined by the Book.

One example of that is the sound hadith of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
which clarifies the ayat: "Those who believe and do not mix their belief with any wrongdoing."
(6:82) in which he makes it clear that 'wrongdoing" in this context means shirk. Another example is
the way that the Sunna delineates the details of the prayer, zakat and hajj. The Noble Qur'an deals
with these acts of worship in general. It prescribes the prayer but does not give details of its pillars
and times. The Prophet expounded them by action and said, 'Pray as you saw me pray." The Qur'an
commands us to pay zakat but the Sunna gives us its details, specifying the zakat to be paid on gold
and silver, on crops and fruits, and on livestock. The same applies to the hajj. It is referred to in
general terms in the Qur'an but it is the Sunna of the Prophet which clarifies its practices for us.

The Sunna also clarifies the hudud in the same way. Allah says: "As for both male thieves and
female thieves, cut off their hands as payment for what they have earned: an object lesson from
Allah." (5:38) The ayat does not define the minimum for which the hand is cut off, or its
preconditions. That is left to the Sunna. There are, of course, a great many other situations in which
the Sunna amplifies Qur'anic texts in the same way.

Part of what the Malikis consider unspecified is that which has a shared meaning. It indicates one of
two or more meanings in its basic form, like the word 'qar'' in the words of the Almighty, "Divorced
women wait with themselves for three periods (qar')." It is used both for menstruation and for
purity. The Sunna is what makes it clear according the disagreement between the scholars in this

Part of clarification is to make the general specific. Malik, as we made clear, stated that the Sunna
makes what is general in the Qur'an specific with preconditions which we will mention, even if it is
a single report if it has support because in his view, when the general and specific meet, the general
is specified by it, if something else supports the Sunna.

In addition to this view, Malik distinguishes between the Sunna's clarification in making the general
specific and the clarification of what is undefined. The undefined cannot be acted on without
clarification. As for the general, its generality can be acted on, even there is a possibility in its
evidence, but the predominance of its evidence for every other possibility is acted upon until the
evidence is established that it is specific. Then there is a difference between it and the undefined,
even if the sunna of single reports clarifies it according to Malik and his students.

3. The third way in which the Sunna complements the Qur'an is in judgements about which the
Book is silent. An example of this is Malik's position of rendering judgement with only one witness
and an oath when a claimant does not have two witnesses. The testimony of one witness is heard
and the oath of the claimant takes the place of the second witness. This procedure is based on a
tradition which Malik considers sound. This also includes the fact that having the same wet-nurse
makes marriage unlawful so that suckling makes unlawful what lineage makes unlawful. Another
example is inheritance by a grandmother, which is not mentioned in the Qur'an.

These categories of the Sunna are in respect of the Qur'an, and they clarify it or bring a judgement
which it makes clear, even if the basis of its argument is based on the Qur'an.

There is something about which scholars disagree: when the Sunna clashes with the dhahir text of
the Qur'an, whether the dhahir is general, as Malik considers the evidence of the general, or not.
Some of them think that the Sunna specifies the dhahir text of the Qur'an whenever it encounters it
because the Sunna clarifies it and the evidence of the dhahir is probabilistic and so it is close to the
undefined, even if it is not undefined. The Sunna is that which clarifies the undefined and makes
clear what is meant by the obscure, as it clear when it makes it clear that 'wrongdoing' means shirk
in the words of the Almighty, "Those who believe and do not mix their belief with any wrongdoing."

A group of the Salaf adopted that view and Ibn al-Qayyim supported it saying, "If it were
permissible to reject the sunan of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, based on what a man understands from the dhahir of the Book, most of the sunan would have
been rejected and totally nullified. So if anyone is presented with evidence from a sound sunna
which opposes his school and stance, he could cleave to the generality or unrestrictedness of an
ayat, and say that this sunna is opposed to that generality or this unrestricted statement and so it is
not accepted. The Rafidites [Shi''a] reject the hadith, "We, the company of Prophets, do not leave
inheritance" by the generality of the ayat, "Allah instructs you regarding your children: A male
receives the same share as two females," (4:11) No one rejects the sunna by what is understood
from the dhahir of the Qur'an but that he accepts it many times over when it is like."

Others disagree with that.

Of which sort was Malik, the Imam of the Abode of the Hijra, and the shaykh of Hijazi fiqh in his

We find that in certain cases he put the dhahir of the Qur'an before the Sunna, and in certain
judgements he made the Sunna oversee the dhahir of the Qur'an, and so one must look for the
underlying cause in the two matters in order to deduce the rule in it.

We find that he took the Noble Qur'an, even though the evidence of the expression was dhahir and
rejected the hadith, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade
eating all birds with talons" since the famous position of the school of Malik is that it is permitted to
eat birds, even if they have talons. For that, he took the dhahir text of the Noble Qur'an: "Say: "I do
not find, in what has been revealed to me, any food unlawful to be eaten except for carrion, poured
out blood, pig-meat.." (6:145) and abandoned the hadith and considered it weak in this conflict.

As for the hadith of prohibition of wild beasts with fangs, he accepted it and made that disliked, not
forbidden. So it is as if the ayat is taken literally. This is what the Malikis mention as ascribed to
Malik, but the Muwatta' contains the prohibition of every wild animal with fangs which is taken
from the explicit hadith.

We also find that he forbade eating horses based on the dhahir text of the Qur'an, "Horses, mules
and assess for you to ride and adornment" (16:8) which did not mention eating. So the text of the
Qur'an forbids it. It is reported that it is lawful in certain hadiths.
The explicit text of the Sunna is advanced about being married to a woman and her aunt over the
dhahir words of the Almighty, "Lawful to you is what is beyond that." (4:24)

The Malikis were guided in the light of investigation to the fact that Malik put the dhahir of the
Qur'an before the Sunna. In that he is like Abu Hanifa, except when the Sunna is reinforced by
something else. In that case it is considered as specifying the general of the Qur'an or qualifying
what is unqualified. The Sunna can be reinforced by the Practice of the People of Madina, as he
mentioned in the hadith of the prohibition against eating any wild animal with fangs. The Sunna is
considered as specifying what the dhahir of the text contains. That is why it states in the Muwatta'
after the hadith of the prohibition against eating any wild animal with fangs, "This is the custom
among us." (25.4.14) This tells us that the people of Madina accept that.

It is like that when it is reinforced by consensus, as it the case in the prohibition against being
married to a woman and her aunt. There is consensus on that. This vindicates the Sunna and it
makes the generality of the ayat specific.

According to Malik, however, if the Sunna is not supported by consensus, the Practice of the People
of Madina or analogy, the text must be taken literally and any sunna which contradicts that literal
text is rejected if it is transmitted via a single tradition. When it comes through multiple
transmissions (mutawatir), the Sunna can be raised to the level of abrogating the Qur'an in Malik's
opinion. So it is more appropriate that it be raised to making the general specific and qualifying the
unqualified and preferring the probable in its literal sense. That is acting according to both texts and
accepting them.

So Malik preferred the dhahir text over a single tradition, even one considered sound, if it was not
reinforced by consensus or practice. On this basis he rejected the report "If a dog drinks out of one
of your vessels, you should wash it seven times, once with earth" because it clashes with the
apparent meaning of the Qur'an in the words of the Almighty, "what is caught for you by hunting
animals which you have trained." (5:4) According to this, anything caught by hunting dogs is
permitted, which indicates its purity and refutes the idea suggested by the report that it is impure.

This was the view of Malik about the generality of the Qur'an with the Sunna. You see that his view
is close to those of the fuqaha' of Iraq, even if they deem that the general is absolute in its evidence
and has no probability in it which originates from evidence. He stated that it falls into the category
of the apparent (dhahir), but he advanced the dhahir over the tradition when it is not reinforced by
something else - consensus, the Practice of the People of Madina, or analogy.

2. Riwaya (Transmission) in Malik's view

The hadiths of the Prophet are supported by an isnad connected by one of three paths: tawatur
(multiple), mustafid (exhaustive) and mashhur (famous, from more than two), or single traditions

Al-Qarafi defined the mutawatir report as the report of people about a tangible matter in which their
multiple transmission normally makes lying impossible. This definition demands that the chain of
the entire line of transmission be by multiple transmission so that the hadith was learned by several
people from several people until the isnad reaches the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him

This is what distinguishes the mutawatir from the mustafid or famous in the Hanafi view, which is
the hadith in which the first or second rank has single individuals. Then after that it became famous
and people, whose multiple transmission is not suspected of lying, transmitted it. The author of
Kashf al-Asrar said, "Fame is taken into account in the second and third generations, but fame is not
considered in the generations after the third generation. Most single reports are famous in these
generations but are not called 'famous'."

The mutawatir conveys knowledge which is essential, i.e. there is no scope for the faqih to deny it.

Some scholars have said that the exhaustive is not like single reports inasmuch as it is open to
uncertainty (dhann). Rather it conveys a knowledge in which one is confident since it was famous
in the generation of the Followers, which was a time of recent transmission when the waymarks of
the sunna were visible and the traditions clear. Its fame in that time refutes the suspicion of any lie
or error in transmission. Some scholars reckon it to be in the rank of the mutawatir since it conveys
certainty, but not by way of necessity, but by way of investigation and deduction. Some scholars
consider it to be like single traditions since uncertainty is affirmed in it.

Similarly there is the disagreement of scholars about the famous (mashhur). It appears that Malik
ranked the famous above the single, because it was famous in the rank of the Followers and
exhaustive so it is the transmission of several people from the Companions, and he believes that that
leaves no scope for doubt.

As for single reports, they are what a group of the first three generations did not relate, and they are
considered evidence by the majority of the Muslims. Indeed, they are evidence by their consensus,
but knowledge of them conveys uncertainty, even if acting by them is obligatory. Ash-Shatibi said,
"Acting by single reports is obligatory because, even though it is acting by uncertain evidence, is is
based on the definitive because Allah Almighty commanded us to follow the Messenger in all that
he brought. The Almighty says, "Anything the Messenger gives you you should take and anything
He forbids you you should leave alone." (59:7) and the Almighty says, "Anyone who obeys the
Messenger has obeyed Allah." (4:80) When the path of reaching the statement of the Messenger is
uncertain, it is like the indication of the Qur'an: even if it is uncertain, that does not preclude acting
by it." Ash-Shatibi said about this:

"One acts on the probable meaning of something uncertain (dhann) which derives from a definitive
source when most single reports have it. It clarifies the Book when the Almighty says, "We revealed
the Reminder to you to make clear to people what was revealed to them." (16:44) The like of that
has come in hadiths which describe lesser and major purification, the prayer and the hajj which
clarify the text of the Book. It is like that with the hadiths which prohibit a group of sales, usury and
other things since that derives from the words of Allah Almighty, "But Allah has permitted trade
and He has forbidden usury," (2:285) and the words of the Almighty, "Do not consume one
another's property by false means, only by means of mutually agreed trade," (4:29) and other types
of clear signs transmitted by single reports." (al-Muwafiqat, pt. 3, p. 17)

Acting by single reports, even if they are uncertain, relies on an definitive fundamental source: the
Book of Allah Almighty, and the fact that it is uncertain does not prevent acting on it.

Ibn Rushd divided the Sunna in the Maliki view into four categories according to the strength of its
methods of transmission and its subject matter.

• A sunna whose rejection is a mark of unbelief. If someone does reject it they are asked to
repent. If they do not, they are to be killed as unbelievers. This applies to sunnas which have
been transmitted by multiple transmission. Acquiring knowledge of such a sunna is
obligatory: like wine being unlawful, the prayers being five, the Messenger of Allah, may
Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanding the calling of the adhan, and other
similar things.

• A sunna which only people of deviation, error and denial reject and which all the People of
the Sunna agree to be sound: such as the hadiths of intercession, the Vision, the punishment
in the grave, and similar things connected with faith, even if they are not mutawatir in their

• A sunna which it is obligatory to know and to act on, even if some of the opponents of the
People of Sunna oppose it, such as wiping over leather socks, because it is known that it is
acted upon by the vast majority of the Muslims and its opponents are very few.

• A sunna which it is obligatory to act on, being one which is transmitted by a reliable source
from a reliable source. They are numerous in all the categories of law and it is obligatory to
act by them. An example of this is judging by the testimony of two witnesses of good
character, even if they might lie or be suspect in their testimony.

As we said, Malik is strict about criteria for accepting transmission. He used to say, "Knowledge is
not taken from four, and it is taken from other than them. It is not taken from a fool. It is not taken
from someone following a sect who invites people to his innovation, nor from a liar who lies in his
conversation with people, even if he is not suspected of that in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah,
may Allah bless him and grant him peace, nor from an old man with excellence, righteousness and
worship if he does not know what he relates and what he says."

He used to say, "I have met shaykhs of excellence and righteousness in this land who relate and I
have not listened to anything from them." He was asked "Why, Abu 'Abdullah?" He said, "Because
they did not know what they were reporting."

This indicates the preconditions which he required in his men. He made acknowledged good
character a precondition and did not accept transmission from anyone lacking good character. He
did not accept it from someone unknown because someone who rejects people of good character
when they do not know what they convey is more likely to reject someone who is not known.
Perhaps he might not be upright, and perhaps if he is not upright, he does not know what he
conveys and what he leaves. Indeed it is a precondition that the transmitter be more than upright. He
should not be foolish and should be without stupidity, ignorance and lack of balance. Stupidity can
be combined with worship and fear of Allah. Malik did not accept from the stupid godfearing nor
from the worshipper who did not balance matters soundly.

There are two more preconditions in addition to the two already mentioned:

1. That he is not someone following an erroneous view who invites people to his innovation.
Transmission is not accepted from those who following different sects, out of the fear that
partisanship for their position will move them to impute things to the Messenger of Allah
which he did not say. In Malik's view, they and whoever follows that innovation are
considered deviant (fasiq). He considers deviation in the soul and intellect worse than the
iniquity of the limbs.
2. Accuracy and understanding and knowledge of the meanings of the hadith, and its goals and
aims. This is why he did not accept transmission from the one who did not know what he
conveyed. He rejected the hadiths of many of his contemporaries, even when they had good
character since they were not the people of this business.
Then it must be noticed that if someone fulfils Malik's preconditions for transmission and is an
acceptable source, nonetheless what is taken from him must be examined regarding the
understanding of the hadith which he related as well as the connection between it and what is well-
known of the legal rules, what is derived from the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Messenger,
that on which the people of his time agreed and that which the people of Madina have. If it did not
deviate from any of that, he gave fatwa on its basis and took the contents of its judgements. If it did
not accord with all of that, he rejected it because he did not like anomalous knowledge. This may
coincide with the juristic principle affirmed by the scholars of the fundamentals in the Maliki school
about what is related by means of single traditions, including what is related by tawatur in which
there single transmissions, like the rules of the Shari'a in the obligation of the prayer, zakat, hajj,
fasting and the times and judgements of these obligations. That is why when Malik learned that a
hadith was gharib [with only a single reporter at one stage of the chain], he rejected it even though
its transmitter was reliable. He avoided the gharib and distrusted it, even if the transmitter fulfilled
all his preconditions.

It is noteworthy that he used to relate hadiths and record them, but he would give fatwa contrary to
them. Perhaps that fatwa was after he learned of a fault in them which demanded their refutation
and that came about after he had transmitted it. For instance, he related the hadith about the option
of cancelling a sale in the meeting and then did not use it, and he related the hadith of the dog
licking a vessel and rejected it because it was contrary to the explicit text of the Qur'an. Then he
said, "It is not in the Muwatta' and is not firm."

In general, Malik sometimes rejected the hadiths of reliable people when he found them contrary to
the well-known and famous judgements of Islam. That is why sometimes there is a clash between
analogy and single reports. Malik studied them and favoured one of them over the other. Sometimes
he rejected analogy and sometimes he rejected the single reports.

Accepting the mursal hadith [where the link between the Follower and the Prophet is missing]:
Malik used to accept mursal hadith and balaghat (where the Prophet is quoted directly). It is clear
that in that he acted as most of the fuqaha' of his time acted. Al-Hasan al-Basri, Sufyan ibn
'Uyayna, and Abu Hanifa used to accept mursal hadith.

If you open the Muwatta', you will find many mursalat in it. Part of that is the hadith of flogging,
which says:

"Malik related from Zayd ibn Aslam that a man confessed to fornication and the Messenger of
Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, called for a whip and he was flogged. Then he
said, "People! The time has come for you to observe the limits of Allah. Whoever has had any of
these ugly things befall him should cover them up with the veil of Allah. Whoever reveals his
wrong action to us, we will perform what is in the Book of Allah against him." (41.2.12)

Part of that is the hadith of the witness and the oath which is mursal. Its text in the Muwatta' is:
"Malik said from Ja'far ibn Muhammad from his father that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, pronounced judgement on the basis of an oath along with a single
witness." (36.4.5)

We see that the isnad in it only has Ja'far as-Sadiq ibn Muhammad ibn 'Ali Zayd al-'Abidin and the
Companion is uncertain in it. It is mursal because the Companion is not mentioned in the strongest
suppositions. In spite of that, Malik took it and gave it weight.
Part of the mursal is also the transmission of what the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, did with the people of Khaybar. Malik said, "From Ibn Shihab from Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab
that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to the Jews of Khaybar
on the day that Khaybar was conquered, 'I confirm you in it as long as Allah establishes you in it
provided that the fruits are divided between you and us." (33.1.1)

One of the balaghat on which he relied has come in the Muwatta' about the compensatory gift in
divorce: "Malik said that it had reached me that 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn 'Awf divorced his wife and
gave her compensation in the form of a slave-girl." (29.17,45)

You see from this that he relied in his reporting from 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn 'Awf the Companion on
something that was conveyed to him. He did not mention the one who conveyed it and did not
mention the isnad from 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn 'Awf.

Why did Malik accept the mursalat and the balaghat and give fatwa on their basis although he is
the one who was strict about them? The answer is that accepting the mursal is when it is from men
who are trusted and selected and so he was strict in investigating the man who was reliable. If he
fulfilled all the preconditions, he was content with him and accepted his isnad from him and
accepted his mursal and balaghat. The strictness in his selection is the reason of tranquillity and
accepting the mursal.

His acceptance of the mursal in this manner is not evidence that he allowed the mursal absolutely
and permitted its acceptance absolutely. He allowed the mursal from those from whom he accepted
the mursal. So the concern is with the person who conveyed it as a mursal report, not with the fact
of its being mursal in itself.

It appears that the acceptance of the mursal reports was something widespread in Malik's time
because reliable Followers used to declare that they omitted the name of the Companion when they
related the hadith from a number of Companions. Al-Hasan al-Basri used to say, "When four
Companions agree on a hadith, then I transmit it mursal." He also said, "When I say to you, 'So-
and-so related to me,' it is his hadith and no one else's. When I say, 'The Messenger of Allah, may
Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,' then I heard it from seventy or more."

It is related that al-A'mash said, "I said to Ibrahim when a hadith was related to me from 'Abdullah
and he gave me the isnad and said, 'When I say "So-and-so related to me from 'Abdullah," he is the
one who related that to me. When I said, "'Abdullah said," more than one related it to me.'"

It is clear that the mursal transmissions were frequent before there were a lot of false statements
attributed to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. When there was a
lot of that, scholars were compelled to adopt the isnad to define the transmitter and his position. Ibn
Sirin said that: "We did not give the isnads for the hadiths until the Sedition occurred."

This is why Malik accepted them as Abu Hanifa accepted the mursal within the limits which we
noted, which is that those who report the mursalat are reliable.

3. Opinion (Ra'y) and Hadith from Malik

It might be imagined that Malik was lacking in opinion, to judge from the statements of those who
have written about the history of Islamic fiqh and divided fiqh into fiqh of tradition and fiqh of
opinion, considering Madina to be the place of the first and Iraq the place of the second and stating
that Malik was a faqih of tradition and Abu Hanifa a faqih of opinion.
We see that this is not true of Malik but is true of Abu Hanifa. We find, for instance, that Ibn
Qutayba considered Malik to be a faqih of opinion. We mentioned in our account of the life of
Malik that his contemporaries considered him to be a faqih of opinion so that one of them asked in
his time, "Who is capable of formulating an opinion in Madina now that Rabi'a and Yahya ibn Sa'id
have gone?" The reply was "Malik".

Malik used to study questions of fiqh with the eyes of an expert who could compare them against
the measure of people's best interests and compare them by means of analogy, and study the hadiths
of the Prophet in the light of these things, and compare them against the general meaning of the
Noble Qur'an. He explored all these matters with a profound and precise examination. In this study
we see that Malik was the faqih whose opinion did not swerve from the deen just as we have seen
that he was a hadith scholar with reliable transmissions.

The extent of Malik's use of opinion is shown clearly by two things: firstly the considerable number
of questions in dealing with which he relied on opinion, whether it was reached by analogy or
istihsan, masalih mursala, istihsan or by sadd adh-dhara'i'. There were many and if you open the
Mudawwana you will see that clearly. The methods by which Malik reaches opinions are more
numerous than those used by others and that shows the great importance of opinion in his work. Its
frequency is a clear indication of his reliance on it and that he clearly made use of it.

Secondly we find that when there is a conflict between single traditions and analogy, which is one
kind of opinion, we find that many of the Malikis confirm that he preferred analogy, and they all
mention that sometimes he used analogy and rejected traditions if they came from a single source.

Al-Qarafi said in the Tanqih al-Fusul in the discussion regarding the conflict between single reports
and analogy:

"Qadi 'Iyad in at-Tanbihat and Ibn Rushd in al-Muqaddamat report two positions in the Maliki
school about giving priority to analogy over the single tradition. The Hanafis also have two
positions. The argument behind giving priority to analogy is that it is in harmony with the rules
when it entails obtaining benefits or repelling evils while the report which differs from it would
prevent that, and so that which is in harmony with the rules is preferred over what opposes them.

"The reason for the prohibition (of giving analogy priority over the tradition) is that analogy is
derived from the texts and that which is derived is not preferred to its source. As for analogy being
derived from the texts, analogy can only be evidence when it is based on texts and thus it is
subsidiary to them. Furthermore, that to which the analogy is connected must also be a text, and
analogy is dependent on texts from both aspects. The branch cannot be giving precedence over its
root. If it were given precedence before its root, that would invalidate it. If it invalidates its root,
then it itself would be invalid.

"The answer to this point (i.e. that the branch is not advanced over its root) is that the texts, which
are the basis of analogy, are not the text over which analogy is preferred. So there is no
contradiction and the branch is not preferred over its root. It is based on other than its root."
(Tanqih, p. 761)

This tells us three things:

1. The school of Malik, according to many of his followers, prefers analogy to the single report. The
scholars of his school have two positions in that just as the scholars of the Hanafi school have two
positions in it. As there are those in the Hanafi school who state that analogy is preferred over
single traditions, so there are Malikis who say that Malik preferred analogy over single traditions.
The Hanafi who made this statement was 'Isa ibn Aban. Al-Bazdawi says that analogy is preferred
over the single tradition when the Companion who related it is not a faqih. That cannot conceivably
be his opinion. When he sometimes rejected the single traditions and accepted analogy that was not
because he unrestrictedly preferred analogy: it was because some analogies are definitive or
because he did not accept the isnad of the single tradition. So is that view of Malik? We will clarify
that soon, Allah willing.

2. It shows that he thought that Malik's position was to give analogy priority over single traditions.
Indeed, he clearly stated that in the beginning of his words: "Malik preferred analogy over single
traditions." Then the disagreement is reported. He explicitly states that that is the position of Malik.
That is why the argument of the one who says that analogy is not given priority is criticised, and the
argument of the one who relates that analogy is preferred without criticism is abandoned.

3. He indicates that the basis of analogies is to bring about benefits and avert harm. That is the
objective of Maliki fiqh since that is the basis of opinion in his view, however numerous its
categories and different its names. Whether opinion is done by analogy or by something else -
istihsan, masalih mursala, or sadd adh-dhara'i– its bedrock is to bring benefits and avert harm.

This is one of the texts which the Maliki fuqaha' wrote in which they mentioned the opinions of the
Imam of Madina when there is a conflict between a tradition and analogy. Al-Qarafi is the one from
whom we transmitted that it has a position in Maliki fiqh. He collected its rules, formulated its
principles, expounded it, and directed attention to its judgements in a manner which made it flexible
and appropriate for application, in accordance with the welfare and benefit of people.

In al-Muwafaqat, ash-Shatibi lists a group of questions in which Malik used analogy, benefit, or the
general principle and abandoned the single tradition because he thought that the principles which he
adopted were definitive or referred to a definitive basis, and the report which he rejected was

1: One example is that Malik rejected the hadith about washing the vessel seven times after it has
been licked by a dog, once with earth. Malik said in it, "The hadith has come but I do not know
what the truth of it is." He considers it weak and says, "One eats what it catches so how can its
spittle be disliked?" So he derived a definitive principle from the confirmation about eating its
game. This is the words of the Almighty, "what is caught for you by hunting animals which you
have trained," (5:4), indicating the purity of its spittle while the hadith indicates its impurity and
thus the hadith clashes with the definitive deduction from the Noble Qur'an.

2: He rejected the hadith about limiting the option of cancelling a sale to the meeting which
demands that each those who make the contract have the right to cancel the contract as long they
have not parted. He said, "There is no specified limit according to us." (38.38) The reason for
rejecting it is that the meeting does not have a known end so that cancellation would have a known
period. By consensus the precondition of the option to cancel is invalidated if it does not have a
known term, so how can a judgement by the Shari'a affirm a precondition not permitted by the
Shari'a. If the option had been permitted for an unknown term, then the precondition of the option
would be permitted without limit. Furthermore the hadith with an unknown period would contrast
with the rule regarding uncertainty and ignorance which is not affirmed in contracts.

3: He did not accept the tradition "If anyone dies owing fasting, his guardian can fast for him," nor
the report which has come from Ibn 'Abbas, "A woman came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, and said, 'Messenger of Allah, my mother has died owing a month's
fast." He asked, 'Do you think that if you father left a debt, you would pay it?' She replied, 'Yes.' He
said, 'The debt of Allah is more entitled to be paid.' He related this hadith under hajj and not fasting,
and related about vows and fasting. Malik rejected it all and took the rule derived from the Noble
Qur'an: "No bearer of a burden can bear the burden of another, and man has nothing but that for
which he strives." (53:37-38)

4: Malik denied the report about overturning the pots in which camels and sheep had been cooked
before the division. It is related that camels and sheep from the booty were slaughtered before the
division and that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ordered that the pots be
overturned and he began to rub the meat in the dirt. Malik rejected the hadith because overturning
the pots and rubbing meat in the earth is waste which negates benefit and the ban is enough in to
clarify the error of what they did and that they did wrong in what they did. Then they ought to eat
what they slaughtered or divide it without overturning the pots nor rubbing it in the earth.

5: Malik did not adopt the hadith, "If anyone fasts Ramadan and follows it with six of Shawwal..."
he has He took that position on the basis of the principle of sadd adh-dhara'i' out of fear that doing
it constantly would lead to adding to Ramadan and making that obligatory.

6: Part of that is that suckling does not have a specific minimum of times, like ten or five based on
the rule derived from the noble ayat: "Your mothers who suckled you and your sisters by suckling."
Derived from its general nature is that a little and a lot of suckling both make unlawful. The
definition of ten or five opposes the general meaning of the ayat, and so suckling applies to both a
few and many and does not have a minimum.

7: He rejected the report about the animal whose milk is allowed to collect by not being milked. It is
what is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, said, "Do not allow the milk of camels and sheep to collect in the udders. If anyone buys it,
he has a choice between views after he has milked it. If he wishes, he keeps it, and if he wishes, he
returns the animal and a sa' of dates."

In one of the two positions of Malik he rejected it and said about it, "It is not in the Muwatta' and it
is not firm." It contradicts the basis principle of "Revenue is by virtue of responsibility" [ascribed to
the Prophet] and because someone who destroys a thing is responsible for its like or its price, and
not a fine in the form of another type of food or goods. (al-Muwafaqat, pt. 3, pp. 24-25)

We have quoted several secondary rulings, and without a doubt they indicate that Malik sometimes
rejected single traditions when they opposed legal decisions. Is it deduced from this that Malik gave
preference to analogy over the single traditions unrestrictedly, as the statement of al-Qarafi would

Before we state what we think is probable in the subject, we note that some of these secondary
rulings are disputed among the Malikis – some of them abandon the single tradition for the apparent
text of the Qur'an. We mentioned at the beginning of what we said about the Sunna that if it is
opposed by the dhahir text of the Qur'an, then the dhahir text of the Qur'an is taken unless the
Sunna is reinforced by more evidence like the Practice of the People of Madina. Thus not adopting
the tradition of suckling, the tradition of fasting for a dead person, and the tradition of washing the
vessel seven times after it is licked by a dog is because of opposition to the dhahir text of the
Qur'an. It is not because of preferring analogy or opinion over single traditions.

As for the four other matters and other instances in which the single tradition is abandoned since it
opposes a confirmed legal rule from the totality of Islamic fiqh or some of its texts, what is
understood from what ash-Shatibi said is that a single tradition is rejected in favour of opinion
without a text itself when it opposes a general rule which is definitely one of the rules of the Islamic

Thus not every analogy or opinion refutes the single tradition. Rather it is the analogy or opinion
which relies on a definitive basis and confirmed rule in which there is no scope for doubt. That
principle is straightforward because analogy based on a definitive rule is definitive and the single
tradition is probable, and when a probable is opposed by something definitive, then the definitive is

Malik did not only stipulate that the principle by which the single tradition is refuted be definitive.
Rather he stipulated that the tradition not be reinforced by another principle. If it is, the single
tradition is not rejected.

Ibn al-'Arabi said: "When a single tradition is in conflict with one of the principles of the Shari'a, is
it permitted to act by it? Abu Hanifa said, 'It is not permitted to act by it.' Ash-Shafi'i said. 'It is
permitted.' Malik hesitated in the question." He said, "His best-known statement, and that on which
one relies, is that if the hadith is reinforced by another principle, it is acted on. If it is alone, it is
abandoned. Then he mentioned the question of Malik about the dog licking. He said, 'Because this
hadith is in conflict with two great fundamental principles: 1. The words of the Almighty: 'Eat what
they catch for you.' (5:4) 2. The cause of purity is life and it exists in the dog. He also mentioned the
hadith about the 'ariyya (which is selling the dates on the trees for their like in dry dates). Although
that conflicts with the principle regarding usury, it is supported by the principle of what is
conventional and accepted (ma'ruf)." (al-Muwaqafat, p. 18)

This is what Ibn al-'Arabi concludes. He thinks that the single report is refuted by general principles
when they are definitive and when it is not reinforced by another principle. That is why he accepted
the hadith of the 'ariyya although accepting it is contrary to the rule about usury which forbids
selling likes of the same type in different amounts or with a delay. Although that hadith clashes with
the rule about usury, it is reinforced by the principle of what is conventional and giving comfort to
the poor, or so that those who do not own trees which bear fresh dates can offer what they have of
dry dates in return for taking from what is on the trees and this satisfies the need of those who have
stored dates which they offer to eat from the new dates. The notion of usury is remote in that.

After thus examining the statements of those scholars who have distinction in deduction in Maliki
fiqh, we cannot confirm the preference indicated in what al-Qarafi said: favouring analogy over the
single tradition absolutely. We see that analogy is favoured over the single tradition when it is based
on a definitive principle and the single tradition is not reinforced by another definitive principle.

Analogy is favoured in this case because the single tradition clashes with unequivocal texts from
which this principle is derived and the interconnected judgements which come from the Wise
Lawgiver and from which this principle is formed which are one of the fundamental principles of
Islamic fiqh.


This is what we think is the opinion of the Imam of the Sunna and the Abode of the Hijra when a
single tradition clashes with analogy. Analogy is given priority in that case with these restrictions.
That makes Malik one of the most distinguished fuqaha' of opinion. It does not in any way detract
from him being the Imam of the Sunna. Rather it makes that Imamate more impressive, because the
Imam of the Sunna is not someone who simply follows every tradition which comes to him without
investigating its isnad and the text. Malik investigated the isnads and was most particular about the
people from whom he related and rigorous in examining their states.

In the same way he examined the texts of the traditions and weighed them very finely. He would
weigh them against other general Islamic principles which are derived from its texts and goals and
attested to by various judgements from the secondary rulings. If everything about them was in order
with them, he would accept them. If anything was not right, he would reject them.

We should state at this point that if a single tradition was reinforced by the Practice of the People of
Madina, that would raise it from being merely an isolated report to the rank of consensus. In this
case it cannot be rejected, for if the practice of the people of Madina reinforces a single tradition it
is preferred even to an apparent text of the QurÕan. Similarly the single tradition is given priority
when it clashes with some analogies and is reinforced by the Practice of the People of Madina. In
such a case it is not considered single.

As we said, this does not indicate that Malik forsook the Sunna in any way: it simply indicates that
he used individual opinion (raÕy) and that this was the method of some of the righteous Salaf. For
instance, 'A'isha and Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, rejected the tradition of Abu
Hurayra about washing the hands before putting them into a wudu' jug under the general established
principle of removing constriction from the deen. Neither 'A'isha nor Ibn 'Abbas ever forsook the
Sunna or abandoned any sound and established statement of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace. But when they saw a tradition which clashed with a general confirmed principle on
which there is no doubt, they left it and judged that its ascription to the Prophet, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, was not sound. They did not abandon the statement of the Prophet, but
rather they rejected its ascription to him.
The Third Source: Fatwas of the Companions

In his early studies Malik concentrated on learning the cases of the Companions, their fatwas, and
their judgements in respect of the questions which he concerned him. We have already seen how
eager he was to learn the fatwas of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar from his client Nafi'. He used to lie in wait
for him when he went out so that he might ask him about the statements of 'Abdullah. He also was
eager to learn the cases of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. He learned the
fiqh of the seven fuqaha' of Madina. They transmitted the disagreements, perceptions, fatwas and
decisions of the Companions as well as the hadiths of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him
and grant him peace.

The knowledge which he was taught and which he mastered and on which he based himself and on
the basis of which he made deduction and according to which he proceeded with the
implementation of the hadiths of the Messenger of Allah was the decisions and fatwas of the

That is why the fatwas of the Companions occupied a major place in Malik's deduction. He took
them and did not infringe them. He accepted the position of the People of Madina because the
Companions had been there, as he mentioned in his letter to al-Layth.

"Know, may Allah have mercy on you, that I have been informed that you give people fatwas which
are contrary to what is done by our community and in our city. You are Imam and have importance
and position with the people of your city and they need you and rely on what they get from you.
Therefore you ought to fear for yourself and follow that whose pursuit you hope will bring you

"Allah Almighty says in His Mighty Book, 'The outstrippers, the first of the Muhajirun and the
Ansar.' (9:100) Allah Almighty further says, 'So give good news to My slaves, those who listen well
to what is said and then follow the best of it.' (39:18) It is essential to follow the People of Madina.
The Hijra was made to it, the Qur'an was sent down in it, and the halal was made halal and the
haram was made haram there. The Messenger of Allah was among them and they were present
when the Revelation was revealed. He commanded them and they obeyed him. He made the Sunna
for them and they followed it until Allah caused him to die and chose for him what is with Him.
May the blessings of Allah and His mercy and blessing be upon him.

"Then after his death, the Muslims followed those from among his community who were given
authority after him. When something happened to them that they knew how to deal with, they
carried it out. If they had no knowledge on the subject, they asked about it and then they followed
the most best line that they could deduce by ijtihad. In this they were helped by having been until
recently in personal contact (with the Prophet). If someone opposed them or proposed an alternative
view which was stronger and better than the ruling they had made , they left the former and acted
upon the latter."

You see from this clear statement that is is necessary to accept the statement of the Companion. It
contains a clear indication of the motive which moved him to accept their statements: they were
first outstrippers among the Muhajirun and Ansar and that Allah praised those who follow them in
the best. There is no doubt that accepting their statements is to follow them. That is praised in the
Noble Qur'an and they were close in time to the Prophet. They were present when the Revelation
was being received and the Prophet commanded them and they obeyed him. He made a sunna for
them and they followed it. They were the people with the most knowledge of this deen and of the
sunnas of the Noble Prophet. Accepting their statement is to accept their sunna.

Malik realised that the Sunna was to be found in what the Companions had. He saw that when
'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz wanted to spread knowledge of the Sunna, he commanded that the
decisions and fatwas of the Companions in Madina be collected. Malik used to relate what this
upright khalif said on this subject.

"The Messenger of Allah laid down a sunna and those in command after him laid down sunan.
Accepting and acting on that is tantamount to following the Book of Allah, the completion of
obedience to Allah, and firmness in the deen of Allah. No one after them can change the Sunna or is
permitted to take on anything which opposes them. Whoever is guided by them is guided. Whoever
seeks help by them is helped. If anyone leaves them to follow a way other than that of the believers,
Allah will assign him what he has turned to and Hellfire will roast him. What an evil return!"

Malik admired those words and clung to them, holding that they embodied the perfect definition of
the Sunna. He accepted that. The Muwatta' contains the fatwas of the Companions alongside
hadiths of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. So he recorded the
fatwas and decisions of the Companions as he recorded the statements of the Prophet, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, and considered them to be part of the Sunna.

Someone who reads the Muwatta' will not find any difficulty about the transmission of examples of
the fatwas of the Companions which are related and recorded in the Muwatta' and accepted. If you
turn its pages, you must see the fatwas of the Companions accepted. A few examples will illustrate

1) There is what has come about a loan in which it is made a precondition that the place where it be
repaid is a country other than that in which the contract was made. The Muwatta' says: Malik
reported that it had reached him that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab heard about a man who lent some food to
a man on the basis that he would give it back to him in another country. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab
disliked it and said, "Where is the transport?" (31.44.91) You see from this that Malik forbade that
type of precondition based on this fatwa of 'Umar.

2) Another instance is a loan is when the lender imposes a precondition that he will get more than
what he lent. We read in the Muwatta': "Malik related that he had heard that a man came to
'Abdullah ibn 'Umar and said, 'Abu 'Abdu'r-Rahman, I gave a man a loan and stipulated that he give
me better than what I lent him.' 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said, 'That is usury.' 'Abdullah said, 'Loans are
of three types. A free loan which you lend by which you desire the pleasure of Allah, a free loan
which you lend by which you desire the pleasure of your companion, and a free loan which you
lend by which you take what is impure by what is pure, and that is usury.' He said, 'What do you
order me to do, Abu 'Abdu'r-Rahman?' He said, 'I think that you should tear up the agreement. If he
gives you less than what you lent him, take it and you will be rewarded. If he gives you better than
what you lent him of his own good will, that is his gratitude to you and you have the wage of the
period you gave him the loan." (31.44.92)

Malik took this view. So if anyone made a precondition in a loan that he would get more than what
he lent or better than it, the loan was invalid and he should take what he gave. It is better to let the
term finish and take it at the end of it and the precondition is invalid.

3) Another instance concerns the gift which is invalid if the recipient dies before it is received or the
giver falls ill before it is taken. In that he accepted the fatwa of Abu Bakr and 'Umar which comes
in the Muwatta': "Malik reported from Ibn Shihab from 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr that 'A'isha, the wife
of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Abu Bakr as-Siddiq gave me some
palm-trees which produced twenty awsaq from his property in al-'Aliyya. When he was dying, he
said, 'By Allah, little daughter, there is no one I would prefer to be wealthy after I die than you.
There is no one it is more difficult for me to see poor after I die than you. I gave you some palm-
trees which produce twenty awsaq. If you had cut them and taken possession of them, they would
have been yours, but today they are the property of the heirs who are your two brothers and two
sisters, so divide them according to the Book of Allah.'" (36.33.40)

We also read: "Malik reported from Ibn Shihab from 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr ... that 'Umar ibn al-
Khattab said, "What is wrong with men who give their sons gifts and then keep hold of them? If the
son dies, they say, "My property is in my possession and I did not give it to anyone." But if they
themselves are dying, they say, "It belongs to my son. I gave it to him." If anyone gives a gift and
does not hand it over to the one to whom it was given, the gift is invalid." (36.33.41)

Malik accepted these two reports.

Malik often accepted the fatwa of the Companions and considered their fatwas to be part of the
Sunna. According to ash-Shatibi, the Imam of the Sunna was well known in his lifetime as strongly
favouring this position. He said in al-Muwafaqat:

"Malik often used this reason in relation to the Companions or the one who is guided by their
guidance or takes on their sunna who Allah makes an example for others. The contemporaries of
Malik followed his traditions and imitated his actions seeking the blessing of following someone
whom Allah and His Messenger have praised and made them and those who follow them, may
Allah be pleased with them, the Party of Allah. Allah Almighty says, "The Party of Allah, they are
the winners." (58:22)

This was the way Malik viewed the fatwas and decisions of the Companions. He and Imam Ahmad
are probably the Imams who held most strongly to the fatwas of the Companions and were most
eager to learn them and take them as a basis for other decisions and fatwas and it was they who did
that most often. They accepted the statements and fatwas of the Companions without limitation or
precondition regarding their number, their attributes, their actions, or the type of opinion related
from them. When they disagreed, they chose the majority position and that which was acted upon
by the community as a whole.

Even if the Imams of the people of the four schools agree on this question, the amount of it in their
fiqh differs. Malik and Ibn Hanbal rely on it a lot so that they consider it to be a pillar of their
ijtihad and were trained in it in their juristic studies. Abu Hanifa and ash-Shafi'i are less than that in
their acceptance, even those the methods are similar and the direction on the whole the same.

Although the four Imams accepted the statements of the Companions, there are those who do not
accept the statements of Abu Bakr and 'Umar. Others do not accept the statements of the four
rightly-guided khalifs. Whatever the situation of those later ones, the early and later ones among the
Followers and those who came after them feared to oppose the Companions. When you examine
most of what you find of this sort in the sciences of the dispute between the Imams and their
schools, you will find that they bolster their schools by mentioning those of the Companions who
held their positions. That is only because they they and their opponents esteemed them and the
strength of their source, and the greatness of their position in the Shari'a.
Malik and the other Imams of the four schools accepted the statements of the Companions and
sometimes proclaimed that their fatwas are based on the fatwas of the Companions, but we want to
pose a question: Did Malik accept the statement of the Companions as evidence and as one of the
branches of the Sunna because the statement of the Companions is either by transmission from the
Messenger and thus is sunna without a doubt, or it is by the ijtihad of opinion, and in their ijtihad
they were closer to the deen and Sunna since they were present at the revelation, and so even if it is
nor explicit Sunna, it is connected to the Sunna?

Before we answer this question, we state that ash-Shafi'i, the student of Malik, believed that
following the Companions when they agreed was evidence of consensus. If they disagreed, then one
can chose of their statements that which he thinks is closer to the Sunna or agrees with analogy. If
he only prefers one statement, he follows it by imitation. He used to say, "Their opinions are better
for us than our opinions for ourselves." He did not accept the statements of the Companions as
being sunna, but on the basis of imitating them and preferring some of their positions over others
because that is the safest course.

Abu Hanifa's opinion is deduced by the fuqaha' of his school and there are two interpretations. Abu
Sa'id al-Baradha'i transmitted from al-Bazdawi in his Fundamentals: "Imitation of the Companions
is a duty for which analogy is abandoned. We found our shaykhs doing this." So al-Baradha'i
reported that his shaykhs, including Abu Hanifa, imitated the Companions, and the statements
transmitted from Abu Hanifa indicate that.

Al-Karkhi, one of the Imams of deduction in the Hanafi school, relates that accepting the statement
of the Companion is part of the Sunna. That is why he only takes it in what is not perceived by
analogy, like the miqats and the like which come by transmission. So the Companion is followed in
this case since his statement is transmission and not opinion. On that basis, his statement is
accepted, not simply by imitation, but because it is sunna.

It is clear from looking at the principles of the Malikis and the Muwatta' that Malik, like Ahmad ibn
Hanbal, accepted the statements of the Companions as a source of fiqh and as having authority and
constituting one of the branches of the Sunna of the Prophet. That is why to know them is to know
the Sunna and to go against them is innovation. Ibn al-Qayyim clearly states in I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in
that it is part of the Sunna.

When a Companion makes a statement or gives a judgement or a fatwa, it may stem from
discernment which he has and we do not, or from discernment in which we share. As for what is
particular to him, it is likely that he heard it directly from the mouth of Prophet, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, or from another Companion narrating from the Messenger of Allah. The
knowledge they possessed and to which we do not have access is more than will ever be known.
None of them related all that they heard. Where is what Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, 'Umar al-Faruq and the
other great Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, heard, compared to what they relate?

There are not even a hundred hadiths related from the Siddiq of the Community, despite the fact
that he was not absent from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in any of his
battles and accompanied him from the time of his prophetic mission, or indeed, even before that
time, until his death. Abu Bakr was the most knowledgeable of the community about him, may
Allah bless him and grant him peace, and about his words, actions, guidance and conduct. The same
applies to the majority of the Companions: the amount that they transmit from the Prophet is very
little indeed in comparison with what they actually heard and witnessed from him. If they had
related all that they heard and witnessed, it would have been many times more than what Abu
Hurayra transmitted. He was only a Companion for about four years and related a great deal from

The statement 'If the Companions had known anything about this matter...' can only be made by
someone who does not understand the behaviour and states of people. They were in awe of
transmitting from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and attached
great importance to it. They did not often do so, fearing to add to or subtract from his words.
Any fatwa which one of the Companions gave will be based on one of six foundations:

• He heard it himself directly from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
• He heard it from someone else who heard it.
• He understood it from an ayat of the Book of Allah in a manner which is unknown to us.
• It is something which all the Companions were agreed upon but only the statement of the
one who gave the fatwa has been transmitted to us.
• ¥He understands it through his complete knowledge of the language and what the phrase
indicates in a manner to which he has access and we do not or by direct knowledge of the
actual circumstances which were being addressed; or by the sum of matters which he
understood over the passage of time through seeing the Prophet, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace, and witnessing his actions, states and behaviour and listening to his words,
knowing his aims and witnessing the arrival of Revelation and witnessing its interpretation
through action. Because of all this, the Companion was able to understand things which we

If the basis of the fatwa is any of the above five criteria, it is authoritative for us and must be

• It was based on an individual understanding of something that the Messenger, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, about which the Prophet did not speak and the Companion
was wrong in his understanding.

This sixth aspect is a theoretical one and the possibility of its occurring is remote, especially in the
case of the exalted Companions who transmitted the Islamic deen to the next generation. This
excellent directive clarifies Malik's view in considering the statement of the Companion as an
authoritative source and the fact that he accepted it as being part of the Sunna. It was not on the
basis that it was imitation and simply following.

The difference between the two views has clear consequences, and so is necessary to examine it.
Since Malik accepted the statements of the Companions as Sunna, it is possible that there would be
some clashes with single traditions and he would prefer one over the other by various means of
preference. If accepting them had been simply imitation, as ash-Shafi'i and Abu Hanifa do with
some deductions, it would not be accepted except inasmuch as it is not sunna.

The first was the method of Malik, may Allah be pleased with him. This was one of the causes of
the disagreement between him and his student ash-Shafi'i, as you will see in The Disagreement with
Malik by ash-Shafi'i. It contains a clear statement about the questions in which Malik abandoned
single traditions and accepted the statement of the Companion. Ash-Shafi'i criticised him for that
and disagreed with him.

On the basis of this principle, Malik sometimes used to prefer the statement of the Companions over
some hadiths, after comparing them. In some cases there were certain aspects of opinion, the
practice of the people of Madina, statements of the people or the general bases of the Shari'a, which
made the statement of a Companion preferable to an individual hadith.

In so doing, Malik did not prefer the statement of the Companion over the Sunna but rather in that
instance it was the statement of the Companion in fact which constituted the Sunna. Because they
differed in their conclusions he carefully compared them and ended by accepting one and rejecting
the other. He did not reject a statement of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant
him peace, for a statement of a Companion. He rejected one tradition from the Messenger for
another which was more reliable and had a more truthful transmission.

Ash-Shafi'i disagreed with him in that method and said about it that he rejected the root by the
branch and rejected the stronger for the weaker, but the clear position followed by Maliki fiqh is
that it does not advance the statement of the Companion over the tradition of the Messenger as such.
We seek refuge with Allah from that being the method of the Imam of the Abode of the Hijra and
the shaykh of the hadith scholars of his generation. Rather the truth is what we mentioned, and it is
that he considered the statement of the Companions as understanding which was received from the
Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and so it is true transmission when
there is no doubt in its transmitters. Then it is measured against a report directly from the
Messenger and so there is only comparison between two traditions from the Prophet, especially
since he only took from the Companions who were with him over a long period.
Fatwas of the Followers (Tabi'un)

The scholars accepted the statements of the Companions either by way of imitation or as an
authoritative source of the Shari'a since it was sunna derived from the guidance of the Prophet, may
Allah bless him and grant him peace. Most scholars do not accord the Followers this rank. Abu
Hanifa explicitly stated that he used to strive as al-Hasan, Ibn Sirin, ash-Sha'bi and Ibrahim an-
Nakha'i strove. In his Risala, ash-Shafi'i did not mention that he allowed imitating them. Perhaps in
these cases he did not reach a confirmed and established ijtihad which was definitive in the
question. When he saw a statement by one of the Followers in the question, he accepted it, but not
on the basis that it was a juristic choice based on evidence or on the basis that its imitation was
permitted, like that of the Companion. It was giving information about the position of those before
him in something in which he did not have an opinion.

Some Hanbalis accepted the statements of the Followers when they did not differ from the
statements of the Companions or the Followers.

Which of the two parties did Malik fall into? It is clear that Malik did not consider the statements of
the Followers to occupy the same position in the Sunna as those of the Companions; but he did take
account of the positions of some of the Followers because of their knowledge of fiqh or their
truthfulness or their exalted qualities of character. These included such people as 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-
'Aziz, Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab, Ibn Shihab az-Zuhri, Nafi' the client of Ibn 'Umar, and others who
were accurate in transmission of knowledge and had high proficiency in fiqh. He accepted a fatwa
from them when its basis was a known sunna, or was in accordance with the Practice of the People
of Madina, or with the position of the majority of scholars. Sometimes he was satisfied with their
ijtihad when he had confidence in it and did not find anything to contradict it.

We will mention some the transmissions which support what we said and attest to it:

1. Part of that is forbidding man to sell what is not in his possession. In that Malik accepted the
opinion Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab. We read in the Muwatta': Malik reported from Musa ibn Maysara
that he heard a man say to Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab, "I am a man who sells for a debt." Sa'id said, "Do
not sell except for what you take directly to your camel." (31.40.85)

2. Malik accepted the position of Zayd ibn Aslam on the reality of the usury of the Jahiliyya:

"Malik related from Zayd ibn Aslam that the usury in the Jahiliyya was that a man would give a
loan to a man for a set term. When the term was due, he would say, 'Will you pay it off or increase
me?" Based on this, a reduction of the debt in return for a reduction in the term is part of usury.
That is why he said, "The disapproved way of doing things about which there is no dispute among
us is that a man gives a loan to a man for a term, and then the demander reduces it and the one from
whom it is demanded pays it in advance. To us that is like someone who delays repaying his debt
after it is due to his creditor and his creditor increases his debt. This is nothing else but usury."

3. Another instance is that he accepted the statement of al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr
about it being disliked to reduce the price in exchange for early payment and to increase it in
exchange for delay. In the Muwatta': "Malik conveyed to him that al-Qasim ibn Muhammad was
asked about a man who bought goods for ten dinars cash or fifteen dinars on credit. He disapproved
of that and forbade it."
From this you see that Malik used to accept the statements of some of the Followers. Furthermore
two things must be pointed out:

One: He used to compare their statement with the famous Sunna, the probable and unequivocal
texts of the Noble Book, what he knew of the general principles of the Shari'a, what was well-
known of sound and established analogies, what the people of Madina had and how people acted.
On the whole, he studied their conclusions alongside all the principles he knew. If he did not find
anyone who disagreed with what they said and he was familiar with it, he took that view which he
ascribed to them. In fact, in his fiqh Malik acted according to that method. He did not accept only a
single principle in the question on which he relied, but combined the roots in his study of each
question. When there was a noble ayat on the question whose apparent text indicated a judgement
which should be studied on the basis of that apparent text, along with the well-known Shari'a, the
Practice of the People of Madina and the general principles, and all of that led to accepting the
dhahir text or making it specific by the well-known Sunna, the Practice of the People of Madina or
the general principles, then he would study the questions using all the sources of deduction at his
disposal. If there was a single tradition on it, he studied it in that way combining the general
principles of deduction. When he reached a comprehensive judgement, he adopted it. This was the
view by which he was distinguished and in which he was opposed by his student ash-Shafi'i. Ash-
Shafi'i thought that the tradition, even if a single tradition or a specific tradition, was accepted and
specified the dhahir text of the Qur'an and rejected analogy. Malik compared and allocated priority,
while ash-Shafi'i accepted the evidence of the Sunna on its own, even though Malik himself was the
transmitter of the tradition and recorded it in his Muwatta'.

Two: He did not consider the statement of the Follower, inasmuch as he was a Follower, as being
Sunna as was the case with the words of the Companions of those who clung to the Messenger of
Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Their statements were considered to be part of the
Sunna as they were Companions who clung to the Messenger, were present when the Revelation
was received and perceived its aims. He did not accept the statements of the Followers by imitation
and following. It was because through his study he had ended up agreeing with them and did not
find anything to diminish them. Those Followers are in the position of the shaykhs on whose fiqh he
based his deduction and he accepted their statements because he did not find anything to invalidate
them and his ijtihad led to him agreeing with them.

Before we finish this topic, we will compare Malik and Abu Hanifa regarding acceptance of the
statement of the Followers. It is reported that Abu Hanifa used to transmit that an-Nakha'i, al-Hasan
al-Basri, Ibn Sirin and other Followers strove and that he could strive as they strove, and that they
were men and he was a man, and that this is why he did not consider their statement an authoritative
source so that it had to be accepted and followed. But in addition to that clear statement of his and
his proclamation of his juristic independence and then his imitation of those whose imitation is not
considered as adopting the Sunna, we see in the Book of Traditions that he proclaimed his
preference for many opinions stated by Ibrahim an-Nakha'i, as Malik took the statements of Sa'id
ibn al-Musayyab, Zayd ibn Aslam, al-Qasim ibn Muhammad, 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz and other
great Followers whose fiqh was well-known in Madina.

The truth is that a deep study of the books of traditions of this two respected Imams shows us the
compatibility of their methods in this case.

Abu Hanifa accepted so many fatwas from Ibrahim that some people attacked his fiqh and claimed
that it was the fiqh of Ibrahim and that he had not exceeded the rank of the one who trained him
because of the great amount he took from the statements of Ibrahim and other fuqaha' among the
Followers in Kufa. However, he selected many of Ibrahim's opinions because their opinions
concurred, not by following and imitation.

A sound study of the development of these two Imams ends with a correspondence in their method
in respect of the Followers, even if their individual Followers were different. Abu Hanifa trained
under Hammad in his juristic development, and Hammad transmitted from Ibrahim. So in fiqh he
learned the fiqh of Ibrahim and then he expanded his studies and ijtihad, especially after he sat in of
Hammad's place after his death. He continued to research and strive for about thirty years. Thus it is
only logical that he was often satisfied with the Ibrahim's opinions independently, not by the
imitation or following.

Similarly, Malik was trained in his legal development by the fuqaha' who learned fiqh from the
seven fuqaha' and others. That study was the legal substance in which he made his deductions. Part
of connecting affairs to their causes was that the opinions of the seven fuqaha' had a place in
consideration and an assessment with him. He either agreed with it or disagreed. If he agreed, it was
from study and the comparison of fundamental principles with one other. If they disagreed, then it
was by conflict with what was stronger than it and a more authentic statement.
The Fourth Source: Consensus (Ijma')

Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, was probably the one of the four Imams who most
frequently mentioned consensus and used it as evidence. If you open the Muwatta', you will find in
many places that the ruling in the case mentions that it is Òthe generally agreed-on way of doing
things,Ó and that was considered to be an evidence which was sufficiently authoritative for him to
give fatwa by it. We will give you some examples:

1. The Muwatta' mentions the inheritance of paternal half-siblings: "Malik said, 'The generally
agreed-on way of doing things with us is that when there are no full-siblings with them, half-
siblings by the father take the position of full-siblings. Their males are like the males of the full-
siblings, and their females are like their females except in the case where the half-siblings by the
mother and full-siblings share, because they are not offspring of the mother who joins these.'" (27.6)
Then he proceeded to the secondary rulings based on this consensus.

2. Another example of that is the inheritance of maternal half-siblings. Malik said about that: "The
generally agreed-on way of doing things with us is that maternal half-siblings do not inherit
anything when there are children or grandchildren through sons, male or female. They do not inherit
anything when there is a father or the father's father. They inherit in what is outside of that. If there
is only one male or female, they are given a sixth. If there are two, each of them has has a sixth. If
there are more than that, they share in a third which is divided among them. The male does not have
the portion of two females." (27.4)

3. Another instance is what the Muwatta' says about the judgement of the sale with the precondition
of being free of all defects: "The generally agreed-on way of doing things with us regarding a
person ...who sells a slave, slavegirl or animal which is meant to be free of defects is that he is not
responsible for any defect in what he sold unless he knew about the fault and concealed it. If he
knew that there was a fault and concealed, his declaration that he was it was free of faults does not
absolve him, and what he sold is returned to him." (31.4)

4. It is reported that the sale of meat for meat can entail a form of usury (riba al-fadl). Malik said,
"It is the generally agreed-on way of doing things with us that the meat of camels, cattle, sheep and
similar wild animals is not to be bartered one for one, except like for like, weight for weight, from
hand to hand. There is no harm in that. If it is not weighed, then it is estimated to be like for like
from hand to hand. There is no harm in bartering the meat of fish for the meat of camels, cattle and
sheep and so on, two or more for one, from hand to hand. If delayed terms enter into the transaction,
however, there is no good in it." (31/28.67)

In all of this you see that Malik used consensus as authoritative and said, "The generally agreed-on
way of doing things with us". We turn to what is quoted from him to discover his explanation of the
term, 'agreed-on'. We find that transmitted in what we quoted before in his words in the Muwatta'.
Let us see what Malik himself says in explanation of his use of the term 'agreed-on'. We find that he
says in the Muwatta':

As for 'the agreed-upon practice', it is something that the people of fiqh and knowledge agree upon
without dispute. This is the agreement of the people of this community who contract agreements
(ahl al-hall wa'l-'aqd) in any matter. By agreement we mean agreement in word, action or belief.
The definition of the mujtahidun who produce consensus was investigated by Malik as we will
make clear.

That is the consensus which Malik took as an authoritative evidence and which you see often used
in the Muwatta' in resolving questions about which there is no unequivocal text or when he believes
that the text needs to be amplified, or when the text is an ayat whose meaning is of the apparent sort
(dhahir) which admits of interpretation and specification.

The discussion of scholars regarding the principles in consensus is extensive and detailed. We do
not want to quote them here. Here we will mention what is connected to Malik's fiqh and the
different varieties of consensus he used to employ and how authoritative he viewed consensus and
its ranks and its basis. In general, we will speak about consensus where it has a a firm connection to
our subject: Malik's fiqh.

Before we turn to Malik's view, we will define the case which the books of some of the legists
mention: when consensus is advanced before the Book and the Sunna. This case is mentioned by
some of the legists and before we clarify how it is invalid, we will mention their explanation of it so
that people will not err in understanding, even though we are not happy with any explanation of it.

What they mean is the consensus which is based on the Book or the Sunna, and it acquires strength
by that support so that it is given priority over other texts. That is because consensus supports the
text. It strengthens it to the degree that it becomes definitive and whatever judgement it contains
cannot be denied. Some of them reckon that a person is an unbeliever if he denies a judgement
which is established by consensus which is derived from text. That is because consensus based on
the evidence of the text to the judgement raises it in the level of something which is understood
from the Deen by necessity.

Even when the discussion is interpreted in that way, many scholars do not permit it because
consensus of this type is only in fundamental obligations, like the prayer being five, the times of the
prayer, fasting Ramadan, the obligation of zakat and so forth. They are obligations established by
text and there is consensus on them, and so the texts do not admit of any probability in them. Ash-
Shafi'i denied the claim of consensus except in the principles of legal questions and Ahmad ibn
Hanbal denied the existence of any consensus except the consensus of the Companions.

The generalised nature of the proposition has allowed some people to oppose some unequivocal
texts based on the claim of consensus in questions, whether the consensus in them is a subject of
dispute or is not agreed upon at all. The generalisation contains an attack against the texts to support
the partisanship for a school. Indeed this generalisation makes some of those who do not understand
Islamic fiqh, its principles or the expressions of its writers suppose that it is within the ability of
people to agree on something which then it becomes a deen which is followed, even if it opposes
the texts and undermines established judgements.

Ibn al-Qayyim refuted that in I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in:

"If someone does not acknowledge disagreement between imitators when there is evidence for it in
the Book and Sunna and says, 'This is contrary to the consensus,' this is the one whom Imams of
Islam repudiate and censure from every aspect. They refute the one who claims that. Ibn Hanbal
said, 'Whoever claims consensus is a liar. Perhaps people disagreed. This was the claim of Bishr al-
Marisi and al-Asamm, but he says, "We do not know whether people disagreed or that has not
reached us."' He said, 'How can it be permitted for a man to say, "They agreed" when I heard them
say they agreed and I suspected them? If only he had said, "I do not know of any who opposes."' He
said, 'This is a lie. I do not know that the people agreed. It is better to say, "I do not know of any
disagreement about it" than to say, "The consensus of the people." Perhaps the people disagreed.'"
(pt. 2, p. 179)

In truth, we do not permit in any case that it be said that consensus in any description is given
priority before the Book and the Sunna, even if some of the questions agreed upon reach the level of
necessary matters in the Deen. That is because of the position of the unequivocal text which is
attested to by consensus. It is based on its evidence, not by consensus alone, especially when some
of the Imams permit consensus to be ascribed to indication or analogy. When we advance consensus
derived from analogy, then we advance analogy over the unequivocal text, and that is illogical
except in the areas which we already have stipulated.

Scholars have agreed that the support (sanad) of consensus can be the Book, mutawatir Sunna,
dhahir text of the Book, or a single tradition. When something which is probabilistic in its evidence
or its certainty is supported by consensus and there is consensus that judgement is issued according
to it, then by that the judgement becomes definitive. The definitiveness comes from the consensus
on the judgement derived from the text, not from the text itself. So it is as if the text provides the
judgement and consensus provides definitiveness. He mentioned from Malik that consensus can be
supported by analogy. Support in it is not confined to a text of the Book or the Sunna. In this case,
the judgement derived from the analogy is elevated from the rank of the probable to the rank of the
definitive, and that was obtained from consensus, and so it provides definitiveness when it is based
on analogy, as it provides it when it is based on single traditions.

There is a case which requires investigation and study of Malik's opinion about it. This is the
definition of those whose agreement forms consensus. We will present two points in the explanation
of this problem:

1. Malik did not think that the common people were included in the generality of those who
constituted consensus. That was because the proofs of consensus were specifically a duty of those
who are not the common because the unsupported statement of the common person is of no
consequence. Consensus must have a support on which it is based, and that is not conceivable from
common people. Furthermore the Companions agreed that the common people are not taken into
account and they must follow the men of knowledge.The common are not included in the consensus
about them because they do not have the ability to understand it or to form a respected opinion in it.
Its basis is investigation based on legal deduction.

2. Who are those of the mujtahidun whose agreement amounts to consensus? Are they the scholars
of a certain time in all Islamic locations? Are the people of innovations among the mujtahidun
included or not? Or is the consensus taken into account that of the people of Madina about an
opinion? In that we are not concerned with the disagreement of the scholars of legal principles in
that – that has its proper place in that science. That which concerns us is the opinion of Malik, and
scholars disagree about whether his opinion was to consider that consensus was achieved by the
consensus of the scholars of Madina or only by the consensus of all. That is the matter which
concerns us in the study of consensus. Al-Ghazali said in al-Mustasfa:

"Malik said: 'The authoritative source is only the consensus of the people of Madina.' He said that
the people considered for consensus are the people of the Haramayn: Makka and Madina, and the
two cities: Kufa and Basra. Those who deduce mean by this that these locations comprised the
people of hall wa'l-'aqd in the time of the Companions. If Malik meant that the people of Madina
included all of them, then that is accepted if it is comprehensive. Thus actual place has no effect.
That would not be accepted. Madina did not contain all of the scholars, either before or after the
Hijra. They were constantly dispersed in journeys, expeditions and garrisons. So there is no sense
in the words of Malik unless he says that the action of the people of Madina is authoritative because
they are numerous and there is consideration of the statement of the majority or a a statement which
indicates their agreement in word or action that they relied on something definitive which they
heard. The abrogating revelation was revealed among them, and so the fine points of the Shari'a do
not elude them. This is accurate since it is not impossible that someone else heard a hadith from the
Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on a journey or in Madina, but he
left it before he transmitted it. So the authoritative source is in the consensus and not a consensus."
(pt. 1, p. 187)

Al-Ghazali stated that consensus in Malik's view is only that which is formulated by the fuqaha' of
Madina, and that he does not include anyone else with them. He vindicates that statement by the
fact that in the Muwatta' whenever Malik used the agreement of the scholars about a matter as
evidence, he says, "This is the generally agreed-on way of doing things with us." If you examine the
Muwatta', you will find the word "with" ('inda) follows "generally agreed-on." There is no doubt
that "'inda" here refers to place, meaning the generally agreed-on way of doing things in Madina.
That is also supported by the fact that in his letters and in his fiqh, Malik used to consider other than
the people of Madina as being subservient to them in fiqh. The logic of his position demands that
what they agree on be considered consensus. Thus consensus and the practice of the people of
Madina are the same type of evidence, i.e. that which the people of Madina have is consensus and
that consensus is the consensus of their fuqaha' rather than others.

However, we find that in his Usul al-Qarafi lists the forms of evidence, and counts consensus as one
proof and that which the People of Madina have as a different form of evidence. He says "Evidence
is: the Book, the Sunna, the consensus of the Community, the consensus of the people of Madina,
analogy, the statement of the Companions, masalih mursala and istishab."

He speaks about consensus and mentions Malik's views on it which indicate that he considered
consensus as one of the sources of the Shari'a other than the consensus of the people of Madina. At
the beginning of the discussion on Malik's usul, we mentioned what was said by the mujtahidun in
Maliki fiqh. They ennumerated the forms of evidence and counted consensus as an independent root
separate from the consensus of the people of Madina.

We cannot say that all the Malikis follow the method of al-Qarafi which I quoted from at the
beginning of our discussion on his principles. Indeed, we found that in his Fatwas, Shaykh 'Ullaysh
stated that the Malikis say that the agreement of the people of Madina is what Malik considers
consensus. That is why he said:

"There were in Madina the Imams of the Followers who were not in other places – like the seven
fuqaha', az-Zuhri, Rabi'a, Nafi', and others. That is why the Imam referred to them and considered
their agreement to be consensus. Consulting consensus and using it as evidence is not imitation. It is
ijtihad itself. This is self-evident and Ibn al-Hajib stated that."

He said about comparing a single tradition with the action of the people of Madina:

"You know that the people of Madina are loftier, more numerous and have more knowledge than
others. Thus it is them who must be consulted to when there is disagreement. When a hadith is
sound and the practice of the people of Madina differs from it, one of the following must apply:
they are all judged to be ignorant, which is something an intelligent man is too shy to utter since
those are the most knowledgeable of the Imams and bad opinion is iniquity; or they are judged to be
deliberately in opposition to the Sunna and playing around, which is worse and more foolish; or
they are judged to possess knowledge and action, and thus when they abandoned a hadith, they left
it for something stronger. This is what we claim. It is known that consensus is a proof which must
have a support which may be known or not known. Their agreement was from something reliable
since there is no way to call them ignorant or misguided. So the clear truth is evident to you if you
accept. Those whose action the Imam used as evidence were the Followers whom he met, and they
did not leave the path of the Companions." (Fatwas of Shaykh ÔUllaysh, pt. 1, p. 43.)

This clearly indicates that Malik considered the agreement of the people of Madina to be consensus
and authoritative. When it is added to what we quoted from al-Ghazali and his explicit expression in
the Muwatta' when consensus is used as evidence (the generally agreed-on way of doing things with
us), that results in the conclusion that the consensus which is used as evidence by Malik is the
consensus of the people of Madina.

This is a logical result of his considering the agreement of Madina to be binding evidence which
must be followed and that it refutes single traditions because when the consensus of the people of
Madina is evidence on its own, there would be no need for the agreement of others. If someone
considers their agreement alone as binding, it is more fitting that it be binding when they agree with
other Muslim scholars. It is also clear that consensus in the view of Malik is the consensus of the
people of Madina, and this leads us on to the practice of the people of Madina.
The Fifth Source: The Practice of the People of Madina

Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, considered the practice of the people of Madina to be a legal
source on which he relied in his fatwas. That is why he often said, after mentioning the traditions
and hadith, "the way of doing things generally agreed-on among us." Sometimes, when no text or
other authority existed, Malik used the practice of the people of Madina as an evidence to be relied
on absolutely. His previously mentioned letter to al-Layth ibn Sa'd shows the great extent to which
he relied on it and his objection to those who followed anything other than the practice of the
People of Madina.

"I have been informed that you give people fatwas which are contrary to what is done by our
community and in our city. You are Imam and have importance and position with the people of
your city and they need you and rely on what they get from you. Therefore you ought to fear for
yourself and follow that whose pursuit you hope will bring you salvation. Allah Almighty says in
His Mighty Book, 'The outstrippers, the first of the Muhajirun and the Ansar.' (9:100) Allah
Almighty further says, 'So give good news to My slaves, those who listen well to what is said and
then follow the best of it.' (39:18) It is essential to follow the People of Madina in which the Qur'an
was revealed..."

In this he clearly stated that the Practice of the People of Madina cannot validly be opposed and that
people should follow it. Then after that he clarifies the evidence which moved him to follow this

"The basis of this proof is that the Qur'an contains laws and the fiqh of Islam was revealed there and
its people were the first who were made responsible for it, encharged with the command and
prohibition and who answered the caller of Allah in what he commanded and established the
buttress of the Deen. Then after the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, among them
lived the people of his community who most followed him: Abu Bakr, 'Umar and then 'Uthman.
They implemented his Sunna after investigating it and studying it while it was still fresh. Then the
Followers after them followed those paths and they followed those sunan. Madina had inherited the
knowledge of the Sunna and the fiqh of Islam in the time of the Followers of the Followers. That is
the time in which Malik saw it. The business there was clear and acted on it and no one is permitted
to oppose it because of that inheritance in their hands which none is allowed to plagarise or lay
claim to."

This is Malik's evidence regarding his use of the Practice of the People of Madina as proof and that
in some cases he advanced the Practice of the People of Madina over single traditions for the reason
which he mentioned. It is that the famous opinion which is acted upon in Madina in the famous
transmitted sunna and the famous sunna is advanced over single traditions.

It is clear that Malik was not the first person to use the practice of the people of Madina as an
authoritative evidence. Malik's shaykh, Rabi'a, mentioned the method and said, "A thousand from a
thousand is better than one from one." Malik said, "The learned men among the Followers quoted
hadiths which had been conveyed to them from others and they said, 'We are not ignorant of this,
but the common practice is different.'"

He also said, "I saw Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr ibn 'Amr ibn Hazm who was a qadi. His brother
'Abdullah knew many hadiths and was a truthful man. When Muhammad gave a judgement and
there was a hadith contrary to it, I heard 'Abdullah criticise him, saying, 'Isn't there a hadith which
says such and such? 'Yes,' he replied. 'Then what is the matter with you? Why don't you give
judgement by it?' asked his brother. 'Where are the people in respect to it?' replied Muhammad,
meaning 'what is the consensus of action on it in Madina?' He meant that the practice outweighs the
hadith in that instance." (Madarik, p. 38)

So it can be seen that Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, did not originate that method. Rather
he travelled a path which others among the Followers and the people of knowledge before him had
followed. He became renowned for it, however, because of the great number of fatwas he was asked
for and because some of his fatwas were contrary to hadiths which he also related. He became the
most famous of those who accepted the practice of the people of Madina as an authoritative source
and so the method was ascribed to him; but the truth is that in that respect he was a follower, not an

We see that in the statements which were transmitted from him or the letters which Malik wrote, he
stated that what the community of the people of knowledge had in Madina amounted to evidence
which had to be accepted for the reasons which we mentioned, and that if a single tradition was
contrary to the practice of Madina, he rejected the tradition and accepted their knowledge since it
was transmitted from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in a more reliable
transmission and truer account. The examples transmitted from Malik in general contain the
practices of the people of Madina which cannot be known except by reliance, like the adhan, the
mudd of the Prophet and other things. Included within the practice of the people of Madina is that
which can derive from ijtihad and deduction whose method is like some decisions and the
judgements of behaviour between people.

It is evident that the Malikis after Malik did not agree on that generalisation, but made a distinction
between his method of reliance and transmission and his method of ijtihad and deduction. Their
books state that the opinion of Malik was that their practice was only in that whose method is
reliance. Al-Qarafi said, "Malik considered the consensus of the people of Madina as authoritative
in that whose path was reliance as opposed to the rest. This is shown by the words of the Prophet:
'Madina expels people like the blacksmith's bellows expels the dross of iron.' Error is dross and so it
must be expelled. That is also because their disagreement was transmitted from their ancestors and
by sons from their fathers, and thus the tradition leaves the realm of uncertainty and supposition for
certainty. Some of the Companions said that their consensus was absolutely authoritative and that it
was evidence in their practice, not in a transmission which they transmitted. The first evidence
indicates this generalisation rather than the second. They argued by the words of the Prophet, peace
be upon him, 'My community will not agree on an error.' It is understood that some of the
community are permitted to err and the people of Madina are part of the community. The response
is that what is articulated by the positive hadith is stronger than what is understood from the
negative hadith." (Tanqih, p. 146)

We see from this that Malik said that their consensus was authoritative in that on which he relies
while some of his people said that their consensus was absolutely a proof, which is the literal
meaning of the words of Malik. Then the proof of those who considered that their consensus is
absolutely authoritative was the hadith, "Madina expels people like the blacksmith's bellows expels
the dross of iron." Its wording conveys the expulsion of every dross, and error is dross and thus
error is not joined to the people of Madina. The evidence of those who distinguished between that
which comes by way of reliance and that which was by ijtihad, is that which comes by way of
reliance is a a mutawatir transmission, and that which comes through ijtihad is deduction in which
error is possible. Misguidance in ijtihad is only denied in the community as a whole. It is possible
that some of them may agree on error. That is understood from his words, "My community will not
agree on misguidance." Al-Qarafi preferred the opinion of those who considered the Practice of the
People of Madina to be authoritative based on the wording in the hadith, "Madina expels its
dross..." and others argued by the hadith, "My community will not agree..." and when the wording
and the meaning conflict, it is agreed that the evidence of the wording is preferred.

It appears that the first part of the consensus of the people of Madina, which is that which has no
path except that of reliance, must be taken as authoritative when there is consensus among the
scholars because it is mutawatir transmission, or at least famous and exhaustive. Qadi Iyad clarified
that and said about it:

The consensus of the people of Madina is of two types: one type by way of transmission, and this
type is divided into four categories:

1. What is transmitted from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the form
of words like the adhan, iqama and not saying the basmala aloud in the prayer. They
transmitted these things from his words.
2. His action, like the description of the prayer, the number of its rak'ats, its sajdas and the like
of that.
3. The transmission of his affirmation of what he saw from them when his disapproval was not
transmitted from him.
4. The transmission of his leaving things which he saw them doing and judgements which he
did not oblige on them although they were well-known among them, like his not taking
zakat on vegetables although he knew that they were numerous among them. This type of
their consensus in these aspects is a proof which must result, and whatever is contrary to it
in the form of single tradition or analogy is abandoned since this transmission is verified and
known and must therefore be definitive knowledge which is not abandoned for what
probability demands. This is what Abu Yusuf and other opponents of those who debated
with Malik and other people of Madina referred to in the question of waqfs, the mudd and
sa' until he noted the transmission and verified it. It is not permitted for a fair person to
debate such evidence, and this which Malik has from most of our shaykhs, and there is no
disagreement about the validity of this method and that is proof among the intelligent. He
was opposed in those questions by other than the people of Madina to whom that
transmission had not reached. There is no disagreement in this. As-Sayrafi and other people
of ash-Shafi'i agree with him as al-Ahmadi reported from him. Some of the Shafi'ites
disagreed out of sheer obstinacy. (Madarik, p. 41)

The fact is that, even if the Malikis are famous for that opinion, others share with them in it or
follow them in it, and we must examine those to discover their opinion. The first of them was ash-
Shafi'i himself. He respected their consensus when they agreed because in his view they do not
agree on something unless that is the subject of consensus. The place of disagreement between him
and his shaykh and the Malikis was in one thing: the validity of those who claimed consensus. His
opposition to it was about the validity of the claim.

We find that in I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in that Ibn al-Qayyim divides the Practice of the People of
Madina whose basis is transmission into three categories: the first of them is transmission of Shari'a
directly from the Prophet, the second is transmission connected to action, and the third is
transmission of places, individuals and measures of things.

The first category is the transmission of the Shari'a directly. It is what Qadi 'Iyad mentioned the
examples and categories he mentions. The second category is the transmission of continuous action,
which is like the transmission of the waqf, sharecropping, the adhan from elevated places, making
its phrases double and those of the iqama single.
As for the transmission of places and individuals, it is like their transmission of the sa' and the
mudd, specification of the place of the minbar and its position for the prayer, and the specification
of the Rawda, al-Baqi' and the Musalla. This is transmission, like places of practices, like Safa and
Marwa and Mina, and the sites of the Jamrat and Muzdalifa, 'Arafa and the places for assuming
ihram, like Dhu'l-Hulayfa and elsewhere. After mentioning and clarifying these categories, Ibn al-
Qayyim mentioned that such transmission is respected and used as evidence. He said, "This
transmission and this action are a proof which must be followed and a sunna which is gladly
accepted. When the scholar obtains that, he is happy and his soul at peace with it. (I'lam, pt. 2, p.

It is clear from these words that Malik accepted the consensus of the people of Madina when the
source of consensus was transmission which cannot be criticised. Indeed, scholars accept it: it is
mutawatir transmission. So it is not rejected in favour of a single tradition or analogy, as we will
make clear. As for the practice of the people of Madina whose basis is deduction, transmission in it
varies from Malik. Some Malikis express three opinions about it:

1. It is not an authoritative proof at all. The proof is the consensus of the people of Madina is by
way of transmission and no ijtihad is preferred over the other. This is the position of Abu Bakr al-
Abhari. He and those who took that position said that arguing by it is a position of Malik or one of
his reliable companions, i.e. that is far from the Maliki school. We indicated that opinion when we
quoted from al-Qarafi.

2. It is not an authoritative proof, but their ijtihad is preferred over the ijtihad of others, and some
Malikis and some Shafi'is accepted that.

3. Their consensus by way of ijtihad is an authoritative proof. This is the school of some Malikis.
They said that it is the opinion of Malik and his expression in his letter to al-Layth which we quoted
indicated this is the course followed by those who take this position, and most of the Maghribis
among the followers of Malik accept this position and follow this method. The context of al-Qarafi,
as we will make clear, indicates its preference or at least the absence of considering it weak.

This is the practice of the people of Madina and the strength of the evidence by it when it is
transmission or ijtihad, and there is no disagreement between the Malikis that when the basis of
their action is transmission, that it is an authoritative source. Indeed the method of others is the
same in that. When its basis is ijtihad, they disagree about it. Most of the Malikis considered it
evidence as al-Qarafi mentioned.

We have not discussed the details of the Practice of the People of Madina when it conflicts with a
single tradition.

The details of the position in it is that if the basis of the consensus of the people of Madina is
transmission, it is preferred over the single tradition because it is mutawatir transmission and the
single report does not oppose the mutawatir because it is probable while the mutawatir is definitive.
This is not disputed among the Malikis.

When the basis of the Practice of the People of Madina or their consensus is ijtihad, then the
tradition is more appropriate according to most of the Malikis although some of them state that
consensus can be by way of ijtihad and that the consensus of Madina, whatever its origin, is an
authoritative proof which weakens the single tradition. However that statement must be examined if
we admit that it is possible that consensus be transmitted when the basis of consensus is analogy or
opinion because it is distinguished by contradiction and disparate different views. So all the views
are one view without a text: something which is the place of investigation, indeed a place of doubt.

If we admit the existence of the consensus of the fuqaha' of Madina is based on deduction by
opinion, and it is favoured over the text, how can deduction whose source is unknown be favoured
over the text? This opinion, even if it is the consensus of a group of the community, does not stand
before the tradition.

There is a distinction between this consensus whose existence is uncertain and their consensus on
something transmitted. The first consensus is logically similar. If it occurs, tawatur transmission is
advanced in deduction over the single report which is probable.

The difference is attested between the two types of consensus from the people of Madina when it
conflicts with a tradition. Ibn al-Qayyim says:

"It is known that the practice after the end of the time of the Rightly-guided khalifs and
Companions in Madina was according to the muftis, amirs and market inspectors among them. The
rabble did not differ from those people. When the muftis gave fatwas on a matter, the governor and
inspector carried it out and it became practice. This is that which is not considered when it opposes
the sunan. It is not the action of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
and his khalifs and Companions: that is the Sunna. So one is not confused with the other. We are
strongest in making this the arbiter, but when the other practice opposes the Sunna, we are stronger
in leaving it, and success is by Allah. Rabi'a ibn Abi 'Abdu'r-Rahman used to give fatwa and
Sulayman ibn Bilal the market-inspector carried out his fatwa and the rabble acted by the fatwa and
the implementation, as practice appears in a town or region in which there is only the statement of
Malik according to his position and fatwa and they do not permit action there by the position of
other Imams of Islam. If anyone acts otherwise, they are severe in objecting to him." (I'lam, pt. 2, p.

He ends his statement about this with a clarification that every practice agreed-on whose basis was
transmission is not opposed to sound sunna and every action whose basis is ijtihad is not preferred
over a sunna at all. He says:

"It is affirmed that every action contrary to the sound sunna does not occur from the path of
transmission at all. It occurs by way of ijtihad, and every action whose path is transmission is not
opposed to a sound sunna at all." (I'lam, pt. 2, p. 308.)

We clarified the the practice of the people of Madina according to Malik, and we distinguished that
practice and mentioned the position of that scholarly method in the principles of deduction of the
Malikis and others. We clarified how the opponents were forced to agree with the Malikis in some
of the consensus which the people of Madina especially possessed whose basis was transmission
and we mentioned that when the practice of the People of Madina is based on ijtihad, it is a place of
dispute even among the Malikis themselves and it is open to investigation.

We must state that when Malik used 'the matter agreed on' in his land as evidence, he did not
confine himself to matters which were only known by reliance. He mentioned that regarding
matters in which opinion has scope. He accepted their position in them because he avoided
deviation as much as possible and his statement in his letter to al-Layth attests to that general
application as we mentioned about that. Al-Layth's reply shows that they were questions in which
opinion had scope. But did Malik give priority to the consensus of the people of Madina over the
tradition when it was a single tradition?
You know that he analysed the hadiths with great penetration to seek out their sunan and that he
compared them with the general principles and confirmed firm principles whose sources
interconnect to establish them. Perhaps after this study of the hadiths and in the light of what he saw
done and transmitted from the Followers and the Companions before them, he found some
traditions weak and that the basis from the beginning was opinion and he accepted it because he
disliked the gharib since he saw deviation in it.
The Sixth Source: Analogy (Qiyas)

Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, issued fatwas for more than fifty years. People came to him
from the East and West to ask for fatwa. Since questions are endless and events occur every day, it
is necessary for understanding of the texts to go beyond their immediate significance to recognition
of their immediate and further aims and to perception of their indications and suggestions, so that
the extent of their comprehensiveness may be correctly ascertained. Only then is it possible to
understand what lies behind the judgements made by the Companions in cases where there was no
well-known sunna and which could not be included within the meaning of the literal text, even
though the text might indirectly indicate to it.

That is why analogy is necessary for someone like Malik. Since fiqh, in its finest meaning, is the
penetration of the insight of the faqih to ascertain what is meant by the expressions which indicate
judgements and thus recognise its causes and recognise its ends, the faqih must therefore use
analogy since he must ascertain the cause behind the judgement in order to recognise the full extent
of what is meant by the Shari'a. When he knows the cause, then the judgement is established in all
that it applies to because the similarity between matters demands similarity in judgement, and
sameness between things with the same qualities demands sameness in the judgements to which
they are subject.

Analogy in Islamic fiqh denotes the connection of something without a text to its judgment by
another textual matter with a judgement by virtue of a shared cause between the two. It is part of
submitting to the principle of similarity between matters which obliges similarity in its judgements
because sameness in the cause obliges similarity in judgement. Thus analogy is natural and logical
because of the logical connection based on similarity. When the similarity is complete, then it must
be connected to the same judgement.

We find that the Noble Qur'an uses the law of sameness in judgments by the resemblance of
qualities and actions in all its similes and instructions, and Allah says, "Have they not travelled in
the earth and seen what was the end result of those before them? Allah destroyed them utterly. And
those who reject will get the same as that." (47:10) He clarifies the difference of judgement when
there is no sameness when He says, "Or do those who perpetrate evil actions reckon that We will
make them like those who believe and do right actions, their living and their dying being the same?
How evil is the judgement that they make!" (45:21) The Almighty also says, "Would We make those
who believe and do right actions the same as the corrupters of the earth? Would We make the
godfearing the same as the dissolute?" (38:28)

You see that the Qur'an applies the rule of logical equality in the most perfect manner and it
confirms the judgment when similarity exists and negates it when there is disparity. There are
numerous reports from the Prophet about adopting this wise dictum and guiding the Companions to

It is related that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said to the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, "Messenger of Allah, I did something terrible. I kissed while I was fasting." The Messenger
of Allah said, "Do you think that you can rinse your mouth with water while you are fasting?" He
replied, "There is no harm in it." The Messenger of Allah said, "So fast." Do you not see that the
Messenger of Allah made a connection between rinsing the mouth with water while fasting and
kissing while fasting? He pointed out the similarity between them since both of them could lead to
something which would break the fast or not. It does not in itself break the fast. Breaking the fast is
possible if it leads to that. Because of the similarity between them they are equal in judgement. As
rinsing does not break the fast - and that was known to 'Umar - and so the kiss does not break it.

The traditions from the Messenger of Allah are numerous about the application of this just principle
in the deduction of judgments for which there is no clear text. Some texts are applied to them by the
sameness in the judgement between similar things.

Al-Muzani, the companion of ash-Shafi'i, summarises the idea of analogy and the action of the
Companions in it excellently:

"The fuqaha' from the time of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
until today have used analogies in all judgements in their deen and they agreed that the like of what
is true is true and the like of what is false is the false, and no one is permitted to deny analogy
because it is the resemblance and similarity of things."

Malik used that method and used the similarity between things to arrive at a judgement. When they
were similar, the legal cause existed. He employed analogy in certain questions in which he knew
the decisions of the Companions. So he made an analogy about the condition of the wife of a
missing man when he is deemed to be dead and she does an 'idda as a widow and then marries
someone else and then the first man appears alive. He compared this with the case of someone who
had divorced his wife and informed her of divorce and then took her back but did not inform her of
being taken back and then she married after the end of the 'idda. That was because 'Umar gave a
fatwa that this woman belonged to her second husband, whether or not the marriage had been
consummated. Malik used this as an analogy for the wife of the missing man and said that she
belongs to the second husband, whether or not it has been consummated. There is no doubt that the
basis of this analogy is the similarity between the two cases, even if he mentions it with the
agreement of the People of Madina. By this it is clear that the basis of the agreement is this analogy,
and the basis of the similarity is that both of them married with a good intention on the basis of
legal knowledge established by legal means, but the error became clear after that. She had no way
to ascertain the error before he appeared. Thus the wife of the missing man married on the basis of
the legal judgement and the divorced woman married on the basis of divorce and end of the 'idda,
and the wife of the missing man had no way to ascertain whether he is alive and the divorced
woman had no way to know she had been taken back. So the two cases are similar and the
judgement must be the same and the same judgment is a result of this similarity.

When no direct precedent was available to him Malik used to make analogies based on judgements
derived directly from texts in the Qur'an and judgements derived directly from hadiths of the
Prophet. The Muwatta' contains many examples of that. We find that at the beginning of the chapter
he presents those ayats and hadiths which he considers to be directly relevant to the subject in hand
and then after that he gives secondary rulings, connecting like to like and similar to similar.

He also drew analogies based on the consensus of the people of Madina because, as we have seen,
he considered that to be the Sunna. In the Muwatta' he mentions the 'generally agreed-on way of
doing things' and then gives secondary rulings in situations where there is similarity in the
circumstances surrounding the questions about which he was asked for a fatwa.

Malik also used to utilise the fatwas of the Companions as a basis for analogy, as we saw in the case
of the wife of the missing husband in which he followed the fatwa of 'Umar about the divorced
woman who was not aware of having been taken back by her husband, which was confirmed by the
agreement of the people of Madina on similar cases.
In general, he used analogy based on textual matters according to their judgement in transmitted
sources or what is judged to be transmitted in his view: the Book, Sunna, consensus of the people of
Madina and the fatwas of the Companions.

Some of the analogies were stronger in his view because they were based on general legal principles
affirmed by many sources of Islamic Shari'a which have become part of the known Islamic Shari'a.
These analogies are raised to the level of contradicting of some of the texts in which a judgement is
established by a probabilistic means – either because the evidence is probable like general
expressions, and so Malik considers the evidence to be probable, or it is because the means of its
confirmation is probable because it is a single tradition and so its ascription to the Messenger is

We mentioned earlier that the general text of the Qur'an is made specific by that sort of analogy,
that he preferred it to the single tradition, and that the single tradition is weakened by its opposition.

Maliki fiqh does not make an analogy based only on textual judgements applied directly to the text
as ash-Shafi'i mentioned in his Usul. Analogy can be based on questions which were deduced by
analogy. When the analogy is complete in one of the secondary rulings and there is another
secondary ruling, he can make an analogy based on it. Ibn Rushd clarifies that in al-Muqaddamat
when he says:

"When he knows the judgement in the secondary rulings, it becomes a principle and it is permitted
to base analogy on it by another cause derived from it. It is called a secondary ruling as long as it
vacillates between two principles and it does not yet have a judgement. It is like that when an
analogy is made on that secondary ruling after it is established as a principle by another secondary
ruling which established the judgement in it by a cause derived from it: so it becomes a basis and
analogy is permitted on it.

"It is not as some ignorant people state: 'Questions are secondary rulings and it is not valid to use
them for analogy against one another; valid analogy is based on the Book, Sunna and consensus.'
This is a clear error. The Book, Sunna and consensus are the fundamental principles of the Shari'a.
Analogy is first based on them and analogy is only validly based on what is derived from them after
it is impossible to make analogy on them. When the event occurs and there is nothing in the book or
in the Sunna or in what the community agrees is a definitive text... then analogy must be made
according to what is derived from them." (pt. 1, p. 22)

Then he makes it clear that that was agreed upon by Malik and his people. He says:

"Know that this idea is part of what Malik and his people agree upon. They do not disagree in their
books about making use of analogy by comparing questions against each other. It is a sound idea,
even when people disagree with it, because the Book, Sunna and consensus are the basis for legal
judgements, just as necessary knowledge is a basis for logical knowledges. So as logical knowledge
is based on necessary knowledge or on that which is based on necessary knowledge, so it continues
endlessly according to order and sequence according to likelihood. It is not valid to base the more
likely on the less likely. It is like that with oral knowledges based on the Book, Sunna and
consensus of the community or on what is can validly be based and so on forever. One must
compare the most likely with the most likely, and it is not valid to base the more likely on the less

You see from this that Ibn Rushd stated that Malik and his people believed that analogy was not
only based on established judgements from the three principles: the Book, the Sunna and consensus,
but there could also be analogy based on secondary rulings established by deduction and what was
similar to them in the sum of its attributes which gave it this judgement.

The benefit in this is clear and evident in three ways. Or it might be said that its fruits appear in
these three aspects:

1. Malik based analogy on questions which the Companions had deduced and used them for
analogy. So he used them as a basis for analogy in similar questions, relying on the Companions'
fatwas .

2. Comparing the secondary ruling to a principle known by analogy expands the area of analogy
because in this case the cause by which the first analogy was established has been forgotten, and a
new comparison is formed between this secondary ruling and the other which is considered as its
principle. So the cause of the judgement in defined in it and established in the secondary ruling
since they share in this quality. Indeed, the case will end in linking the new cause with the old
cause. Analogy is the same, but the mujtahid is not burdened with the effort of investigation into the
basis of the first analogy. Rather he considers the established secondary ruling to be a confirmed
principle on which to base analogy.

3. This subject expands deduction in a school of one of the mutjahidun because he considers the
secondary rulings in which the principles were deduced which he does not use for comparison and
by that the scope of fiqh is expanded and ijtihad in it and deduction based on it grows and fatwas
are not constricted or difficult. Indeed, the area of deduction is open and the path is improved.

Part of the benefit in that type of analogy used frequently in Maliki fiqh – considering the secondary
ruling as a principle to be used in analogy – is that partial secondary rulings are compared to one
another while the cause in them is not universal, as it is in Hanafi fiqh. Hanafi fiqh makes the
underlying causes in them inclusive and all-embracing in the form of a universal rule and every
secondary ruling achieved in it establishes the judgement which is its cause; and so all the rulings
are connected to the first principle and one secondary ruling is not compared to another. Thus the
analogies of the Hanafis are universal and the analogies of the Malikis are partial in this respect.

At this point we do not intend to detail the categories of analogy nor the attributes of the underlying
cause nor its method because that subject is the science of fundamental principles and most of the
principles of the Malikis coincide with those of others and are not different from them. There is
nothing in their study which will distinguish Maliki fiqh from others. What we are studying is the
distinct quality of Maliki fiqh by indicating the areas which set it off from others and give it an
independent legal being.

Here we should indicate something which clarifies an area of Maliki thinking, or to be more precise,
indicates the most characteristic thing by which Maliki fiqh is distinguished. It is the attention to
public welfare (al-masalih al-mursala). Maliki fiqh is distinct among the various types of fiqh by
the pre-dominance of public welfare in it.

There is no evidence in the Shari'a for the abrogation or consideration of masalih mursala. It is an
independent source of deduction, and so it is examined in analogy and is one of the means of
clarification and definition of the underlying cause. This is designated as commensurability.

Al-Qarafi states in his clarification:

"Commensurability contains the acquisition of benefit or averting evil. The first is as wealth is a
reason for the obligation of zakat and the second is as intoxication is a reason for the prohibition of
wine. Commensurability is divided into that which is in the position of necessities, which are needs,
and that which is in the position of supplementals. So the first is given priority over the second, and
the second over the third when there is a conflict. The first are like the five universals: preservation
of life, religion, lineage, sanity and property. Some say that honour [instead of religion] is one. The
second level is like the marriage of the young ward. Marriage is not a necessity but a need in which
a spouse is sought. The third is that which will encourage noble character, like the prohibition
against taking drugs, denying someone's suitability for testimony or slaves making depositions, and
maintenance of relatives. Descriptions vary between these levels: like cutting off hands of several
people for the loss one hand. Its legitimacy is necessary to protect people's limbs.
"An example of all of them being combined in the same quality is that the maintenance of life is
necessary, wives are a need and relatives are a supplement. The precondition of good character in
testimony is necessary to protect lives and property; for being the imam (in the prayer) is a need
because it is intercession and the need leads to the improvement of the state of the intercessor.
Marriage is a supplement because the guardian is a relative whose nature keeps him from shame or
causing injury.

"Removing hardship from people is benefit, even if it leads to the opposite of the rules. They are
necessary and cause easement. This is as in the case of a land in which it is impossible to find
people of good character. Ibn Abi Zayd says in an-Nawadir, 'The testimony of those like them is
accepted immediately because that is necessary. That is also obliged in judgeship and authorities. It
is applied by need with dispute in the case of trustees." (p. 169)

We quoted these words to show how Malik thought that commensurability indicated the cause of
the analogy as Kitab al-Usul mentions. It shows how they delved into the application of that
evidence, expanded it and defined many of the secondary rulings of their fiqh accordingly. That is
why he mentioned that when there is dispute in secondary rulings, there is dispute in the

You see from this that in the school of Malik to they consider analogy to be founded on that which
makes benefit an independent principle. That is clear since they state that if legal analogy is
opposed to benefit, then one takes the benefit. So when analogy demands that good character be a
precondition and there are people in a land where there is no one who could be called of good
character, then there is allowance to accept the testimony of those like them and it is clear that the
like of that is an event which is only witnessed by those to whom the precondition of justice applies.
It is also allowed in the acceptance of the testimony of the best of those concerned.

They said something similar about authority and they accept that the one in authority can be other
than someone with good character, although the basis is that he should have good character, if there
exists what obliges that allowance out fear of harm and disorder by rebellion against him or there is
no one who has better character than him, and such cases.

The fuqaha' of the Maliki school use analogy but always subject it to the principle of bringing about
the best interests of people and averting harm from them. So even if their analogy is absolutely
correct, they do not proceed with it if that would prevent benefit or entail harm. They relax the
general rules and leave them for the sake of specific benefits. That is part of istihsan.
The Seventh Source: The Principle of Istihsan (Discretion)

There are many sources which state that Malik used to employ istihsan. Al-Qarafi mentioned that
sometimes he used to give fatwa on the basis of istihsan and he said about it, "Malik says it in a
number of questions about artisans who work on objects giving an guarantee of their work and
those who transport food and condiments giving a guarantee as opposed to others." (Tanqih, p. 23)

We read in the gloss of al-Banani that Ibn al-Qasim related from Malik that he said that istihsan was
nine-tenths of knowledge. Malik used analogy but made it subject to general and partial benefit, so
he only applied it when he was sure that there was no harm in its application; otherwise he left it.
For Malik it was a basic rule that analogy is subject to benefit. That is why the underlying principle
of Maliki fiqh is benefit, as we will explain.

Judgements based on istihsan or which make it the deciding factor when weighing up different
proofs are numerous in the Maliki school, as ash-Shatibi says in al-Muwafaqat. One example of this
is loans. A loan might be considered to be usury because a dirham is exchanged for a dirham for a
period of time but it is permissible under the principle of istihsan because of the way people are
helped by it. If loans had remained forbidden they might have suffered great hardship.

Another example is looking at the private parts of people in medical treatment. The general rule is
that it is unlawful to look at private parts, but it is recommended to avert harm.

Another is sharecropping. The general principle obliges that it is forbidden since the recompense is
unknown, but it is completely recommended.

Another is ignoring usury in smalls amount since it is insignificant and so it is permitted to have a
small disparity in a long delay.

Another is what we mentioned before of the lack of making good character a precondition for
witnessing when the qadi is in a place in which witnesses of good character are rare. The same
applies to granting trusteeship to someone without good character in order to avert hardship as was
made clear under analogy.

These secondary rulings and those like them make it clear that Malik used to employ istihsan. What
is the reality of istihsan? What are the places in which it is permitted to use it and rely on it in the
construction of judgements?

Two things are evident from examining the questions in which judgements are based on istihsan.

• Istihsan is used for fatwa in questions, not on the basis of its being a rule, but rather on the
basis of its being an exception to the rule or according to the Maliki definition of
consideration: relaxation of the rule is a temporary principle as distinct from a universal
principle. We saw an example of this in the fatwa about accepting witnesses who do not
have good character in a land in which no witnesses of good character can be found and as
mentioned above when a loan is permitted to avert distress and hardship. In these matters
and those like them, istihsan is a relaxation of the general rule which, if followed in the
particular instance in question, would lead to harm. Istihsan averts that harm.
• Istihsan is most often used when the application of strict analogy would necessarily entail
distress. So istihsan in the Maliki school, as in the Hanafi school, is equivalent to analogy,
even though the methods of the two schools in reaching it are different. Each of them
proceeds according to its legal logic, and istihsan in the Maliki school aims to avert any
distress arising from following analogy through to its logical conclusion. Asbagh, who was
probably the most prolific exponent of istihsan, said, 'People who go to extremes in making
analogy are in danger of abandoning the Sunna. Istihsan is the foundation of knowledge.'
(ash-Shatibi, al-Muwafaqat, vol. 4, p. 118)

Ash-Shatibi says about istihsan: 'It entails giving priority to empowered deduction over analogy.
Whoever uses istihsan does not refer to only his inclination and desire. He refers to what he knows
of the intention of the Lawgiver in those kinds of theoretical matters, like the questions in which the
people would give a certain judgement were it not that that matter would lead to the loss of benefit
from a different aspect or would bring about evil in the same way... In some case, analogy without
restriction would lead to distress and hardship in some cases, and so there is an exception for the
place of distress." (al-Muwafaqat, pt. 4, p. 116)

An example of istihsan is when someone dies leaving a husband, and two siblings by the mother
and two full siblings. The application of analogy to this question would demand that the husband
inherits a half, the mother a sixth and the brothers have a third, and there is nothing for the full
siblings although they are the children of the mother. So it is strange that they do not take anything
while the maternal half-siblings alone receive a third. That is why 'Umar made them share in the
third by the consideration that they are the sons of the mother. That is an excellent istihsan on his
part. That establishes the sunna of istihsan to establish justice which averts distress.

Like the Malikis, the Hanafis say that istihsan is adopted when the analogy is offensive or when the
analogy will lead to excess in judgement. When Abu Hanifa used analogy, his companions argued
with him about the criteria, but when he said he used istihsan, no one added to it, as was stated by
one his pupils, ash-Shaybani.

But is istihsan as used by the Malikis and Hanafis the same, or to be more precise, the manner of
istihsan with the Malikis and Hanafis?

Before we mention what the Hanafis and Malikis said about istihsan, we will tell you what is
evident to us about istihsan in the two schools. That which is clear to us is that istihsan in the Maliki
fiqh is deals with excess in analogy by referring to three matters: 1) the prevailing custom, 2) the
predominant benefit, and 3) avoidance of distress and hardship, and mindfulness of pressing

The Hanafi school used to avoid extreme analogy by observing another cause different from the
evident cause in the analogy. So they consider istihsan when there is a conflict between two
analogies, one with a hidden cause and strong effect, which is what is called istihsan, and the other
with an apparent cause and weak effect.

Analogy is negated by necessity and custom, as the Malikis state: this is called istihsan. So the two
schools agree that consideration of hardship and prevailing custom obliges istihsan rather than
analogy. Their divergence lies in the back that Abu Hanifa considered adopting consensus, or the
single tradition rather than analogy, as part of the secondary parts of istihsan while it is clear that
the Malikis do not call that istihsan.
Similarly they diverge in that the Malikis adopt partial benefit instead of universal analogy, as when
someone purchases goods provided that he has an option to return them and then he dies and his
heirs disagree about carrying it through or cancelling it. Ashhab said, "Analogy would demand that
it is invalidated, but we use istihsan since the buyer is not able to decide himself."

You see from this that analogy is not carried through because of a partial benefit, and that is not part
of Hanafi thinking.

We already mentioned some reports from Malik about how he used istihsan and some of the rulings
recorded in his fiqh whose basis was istihsan and what some Maliki scholars said about the method
of istihsan in them.

Now we want to define its extent in that school and the disagreement of the scholars about it. We
will first mention their definitions of it and the scope they allow it will become clear.

Ibn al-'Arabi defined it in Ahkam al-Qur'an: "Istihsan according to us and the Hanafis is the use of
the stronger of two pieces of evidence." This definition brings the two schools closer in the reality
of istihsan. We made it clear that they diverge in its use, even if they stated that istihsan was one of
the principles of deduction. Their disagreement is on some of the principles. The Hanafis refer to
accepting the hadith to an analogy whose cause is maintained as istihsan and they refer to the
acceptance of consensus over analogy as istihsan. The Malikis do not proceed in that way or, to be
precise, they do not call that istihsan.

Ibn al-'Arabi mentioned in another definition, "Istihsan is to prefer to leave what the proof entails
by relaxation because of something which contradicts some of its requirements." He divided it into
four categories: leaving the proof in favour of custom and leaving it in favour of consensus; leaving
it in favour of a benefit; leaving it in favour of making things easy; and removing hardship and
preferring expansion.

However, Ibn al-Anbari does not think that istihsan in the Maliki school is that general. He thinks
that abandoning analogy in favour of consensus or custom is to prefer taking one piece of evidence
over another. As for istihsan, it is only preventing the extremes of analogy: when implementing the
analogy would result in injustice, or in something which is not recommended in itself, or to
constriction and distress. Then analogy is abandoned in a specific case, not in all cases. That is an
amendment of the definition of Ibn al-'Arabi. It is the use of a partial benefit instead of a universal
analogy. So it puts the empowered deduction before analogy.

All the definitions arrive at the same end, which is that the faqih who is a mujtahid must note that
when continuing with the cause would result in injustice, entail an injury, or repel a benefit, or
actual distress exists, then it is necessary to abandon analogy and to adopt these matters which agree
with spirit and heart of the deen and its texts. In the Qur'an, "He has not placed any constraint on
you in the deen." (22:78) The Prophet said, "No harm and no causing injury." The deen brings
people's welfare in this world and the Next and so using istihsan and abandoning analogy in these
cases is the heart of Islam and the core of its fiqh.

We concluded in this that the scope of the direction in istihsan among the Malikis is to prefer partial
benefit over analogy and that by that istihsan is close to masalih mursala. But ash-Shatibi says, "If
it is said this is part of masalih mursala and not part of istihsan, we would reply, 'Yes, however they
conceive of istihsan as an exception to the rules which is not the case in masalih mursala.'" (al-
I'tisam, pt. 2, p. 234.)
The meaning of this is that istihsan is a partial exception instead of a universal proof which differs
in some parts. As for masalih mursala, it is used when there is no evidence except it. It is used in
two cases:

First Case: When there is no analogy in the subject which can be applied to a text. In this case,
Malik considered this to be a separate principle We will clarify that later.

Second Case: When there is analogy and carrying that analogy through would cause hardship or
constriction, or loss of benefit: then there is relaxation in abandoning analogy for this use and by
that harm is avoided. When this is used instead of analogy is called istihsan.

Malik used analogy, but he made it subject to universal and partial welfare, and so he only applied it
when it is was confirmed that there was no harm in its application. Otherwise he left it. The basis
with him was that analogy is subject to welfare. That is the logic of Maliki fiqh regarding benefit.

Ash-Shafi'i, Malik's pupil, fumigated against his shaykh for this and said that istihsan amounted to
abandoning the evidence for benefit which was tantamount to adopting the principle of benefit
alone without attempting to rely on the texts. He criticised that and said that it was wrong and wrote
a chapter on that in al-Umm called, "The Chapter of the Invalidation of Istihsan."

The basis of the disagreement in this topic is that ash-Shafi'i limits himself to the text in every
question in which he gives fatwa. If there is no clear text, then the text is brought to bear. That is by
analogy and so there is nothing other than the text with ash-Shafi'i in every question in which he
gives fatwa. Malik, however, viewed the Shari'a in a comprehensive way and found that in its heart
and goals it was directed to the best interests of people and the avoidance of harm. If a confirmed
benefit has no harm connected to anyone, that is the confirmed goal. If there is confirmed harm,
then there is confirmed prohibition. This comprehensive view is referred to often in a group of texts
like the words of the Almighty, "He has not placed any constraint on you in the deen." (22:78) and
like the words of the Almighty, "Allah desires ease for you; He does not desire difficulty for you."
(2:185) The Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "No harm and no causing injury." A
critical examination of any legal judgement will reveal that the benefit and averting of harm are
both observed in it and are intended by it.

Since that is the case, then every matter which contains benefit or averting of harm is desired by the
Lawgiver whether there is a text on it or not because the it is in the general text, even if the
particular text does not exist.

When Malik gave fatwas based on al-masalih al-mursala or according to empowered deduction, he
adopted the general firm root of investigation and scrutiny. According to Malik, istihsan is only one
of the branches of empowered deduction as we noted. We will explain the general root and the
aspects of its use when we speak about al-masalih al-mursala, Allah willing. He is the One who is
asked for help.
The Eighth Principle: The Principle of Istishab
(Presumption of Continuity)

This is one of the fundamental principles of legal deduction, even if it does not have a wide latitude
like other principles. In general, it is a negative, not a positive principle, i.e. certain judgements
arise from it, not by legal affirmation with confirmed evidence in which judgements are established
by the lack of the existence of contrary established evidence which is different from the established
state before.

Ibn al-Qayyim defined it as being the continuation of what is established or the negation of what
does not exist, i.e. it is the judgement, negative or positive, continues until there is evidence of a
change of state. This continuance is not proved by positive evidence, but by the absence of the
existence of new evidence. Al-Qarafi defined it: "Istishab means the belief that the past or present
matter must be assumed to remain as it is in the present or future."

This means that the past judgement and the knowledge of it makes one assume that it will continue
in the future, like the one for whom ownership is affirmed by something like purchase or
inheritance. So ownership continues until there exists something to negate it. It is also like someone
who is known to be alive at a specific time. It remains probable that he is still alive until evidence is
established to the contrary and something establishes his death. So an absent person is judged to be
alive until there is something to indicate he has died and then the qadi judges him to be dead.

Al-Qarafi said: "Istishab was considered a proof by Malik as well as the Shafi'i, al-Muzani." He
mentioned that he differed from the Hanafis in that. Then he mentioned that the evidence that it is a
proof is that it it probable that an existing state will continue to exists until there is something to
negate it. Such probability is evidence in action: like testimony. It is a binding proof for all. If it
were ignored or not acted upon, rights would be lost since there would be no means to establish

According to this, istishab was considered proof by Malik as long as there was no evidence to
contradict it. When a person is absent and it is not known whether he is alive or dead, he is
considered to be alive until the Qadi judges that he is dead and he is deemed to be alive in the
period between the absence and being judged to be dead.

Al-Qarafi mentioned that the Hanafis differ from the Malikis in that and some of them do not
consider istishab to be a proof in its own right. However presumption of innocence is a firm
principle which is relied on. It is like that when ownership is affirmed. It only ceases by a
eliminating cause. All of this is involves the presumption of the continuation of the state. So most
Hanafis who disagree with them say that continuation of the state is a defensive proof and not
evidence of affirmation. That is why they permit a settlement after denial even though the claimant
takes a reimbursement when the right has not been established. If istishab had been a proof which
obliged rejection and affirmation, that settlement would not have been permitted as long as there
was no evidence. So the evidence of the ownership of one against whom the claim is made would
be affirmed by the principle of the continuation of the state, but the Hanafis, who permit the
settlement, said that denial interferes with the principle of innocence. As they both have a right,
each of them makes a settlement for a right permissible in respect of him.
They explain it as meaning a negative rather than affirmative presumption. It denies the entitlement
of something against him.

Some scholars divided istishab into two categories:

1. Presumption of innocence. It is the continuance of inviolability until there is evidence which

establishes a right, like the state of the one who denies a claim. His state is that of presumption of
innocence. Ibn al-Qayyim mentions the dispute of the fuqaha' in it, saying that the Hanafis apply it
to denial rather than affirmation. Malik, ash-Shafi'i and Ibn Hanbal accept it as absolute proof.
2. The continuity of the attribute. A judgement continues until its opposite is affirmed. Ibn al-
Qayyim said that it is a proof about which the fuqaha' do not argue, but we disagree with Ibn al-
Qayyim. The Hanafis said that the continuity of the attribute is a negative rather than affirmative
proof of denial, i.e. that the attribute affirms the continuity of the condition, but it does not affirm a
new right by it.

The summary of the position is that Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, used istishab as a proof
and al-Qarafi, Ibn al-Qayyim, and others postulated a difference between him and the Hanafis, but
the one who studies the secondary rulings of the two schools will find that both of them do not
differ much from one other in the nature of the proof of istishab and the amount in which it is used
as evidence. You will see that they are unified in the principle of istishab regarding the life of
someone who is missing and make it affirm what was affirmed first but it does not establish a new
right. They differ from ash-ShafiÔi in that.

The summary of the position is that Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, accepted istishab as a
proof and although al-Qarafi, Ibn al-Qayyim, and others postulated a difference between him and
the Hanafis, a study of the secondary rulings of the two schools shows that both of them do not
differ much from one other in the nature of the proof of istishab and the amount in which it is used
as evidence. You will see that they are unified in the principle of istishab regarding the life of
someone who is missing and make it affirm what was affirmed first but it does not establish a new
right. They differ from ash-Shafi'i in that.
The Ninth Source: The Principle of al-Masalih al-Mursala
(Considerations of Public Interest)

The great majority of scholars of ethics incline to the view that the governing measure of all that is
good and evil in any action is the benefit or harm which stems from it. If the action contains some
advantage and does not cause harm to anyone, then it is good and performing it is an undoubted
virtue. If it is an action which contains benefit for some people and harm for others, there is a
conflict and clash between benefit and harm. In this case the good lies in abandoning a slight harm
to obtain a greater benefit, or in abandoning a temporary benefit for a lasting benefit, or in
abandoning an uncertain benefit to obtain a definite one.

Islamic fiqh in its entirety is based on the best interests of the community. That which contains
benefit is desired and there is evidence for that, and that which is harmful is prohibited and there are
numerous proofs for that as well. This is a confirmed principle which is agreed upon by the fuqaha'
of the Muslims. None of them have ever alleged that the Islamic Shari'a brought anything which is
not in people's best interests and none of them have ever said that there is anything harmful in any
law or judgement within the Shari'a which has been legislated for the Muslims. Although there is no
disagreement on its basis, there may be on its application.

Some think that the Shari'a contains the explication of everything which entails people's welfare,
and so complete welfare can be found in its texts and that which cannot be taken by text can have a
text applied to it by analogy, and the mujtahid cannot discover welfare when there is no testimony
to it in the Shari'a. Ash-Shafi'i was the standard-bearer of that opinion. That is why he launched an
all-scale attack on whoever considered that there was a benefit which had no testimony from the
Lawgiver through 'istihsan'. The basis of that opinion is not to neglect welfare. Rather its basis is
that Allah did not leave man in vain and appoint a benefit in existence to which the Lawgiver did
not testify. Contained within this precept is that Allah Almighty would not leave a man to his own
devices. That is what Allah denied in His ayats when He says, "Does man reckon he will be left to
go on unimpeded?" (75:36)

In that ash-Shafi'i was close to Hanafi fiqh, but the Hanafis extend the area of application of texts
more than ash-Shafi'i and accept some matters in which would analogy impair people's welfare and
employ the istihsan which Abu Hanifa used frequently. Istihsan without a text or hidden analogy is
making use of welfare.

As for the schools of Malik and Ibn Hanbal, they both consider welfare as an independent principle
in fiqh and state that the texts of the Lawgiver in their judgements only bring what is benefit, even if
there is no text to define it, and if something is not known by text, its goal is known by the general
texts of the Shari'a, like the words of the Prophet, "No harm and no causing injury," and the words
of the Almighty "We have not placed on you any constraint in the deen."

According to these two schools, the faqih is able to judge that every action which contains benefit
and has harm in it or has more utility than harm is desired without requiring a specific text on that
type of benefit. Every matter which contains harm and no benefit or whose sin is greater than its
utility is forbidden without requiring a specific text.

Some Hanbalis and Malikis go further and make the Qur'anic and Prophetic texts specific to welfare
when the subject of these texts is human behaviour and not acts of worship. At-Tufi al-Hanbali was
extreme in adopting that type of fiqh and said that when regard for benefit leads to opposition of a
judgement which is agreed or a text of the Book and Sunna, then the regard of the benefit must be

There is no doubt that proceeding in this course which the fuqaha' of the Malikis and Hanbalis
followed makes the Islamic Shari'a rich and productive in fulfilling the needs of people in every age
and in every place. We prefer not go too far as at-Tufi did, or, to be more precise, we will not find a
definite benefit which definitely opposes a legal text or a matter on which the fuqaha' of the
Muslims agree. If we disagree with at-Tufi in anything, we disagree with him in supposing that
there is a benefit which the human intellect is certain exists in a matter while the texts contain that
which prevents its being observed or that the scholars would agree on its opposite.

There is no doubt that the Maliki school, and the Hanbali school as well, follow the direction that
judgement by the commands of the deen, morality and laws is directed to the happiness of people
and that utility or benefit is a governing criterion for all that is commanded or prohibited in the
deen, as it is for the philosophers who state that it is the criterion of virtue and vice in morality, and
justice and injustice in law.

When a philosopher in the last century wanted to declare that the criterion of morality is utility, he
found that it was necessary to define it and to clarify its limits and to divest it of distorting ideas
which people understand to be connected to it. He said: "But it is a preliminary condition of rational
acceptance or rejection that the [utilitarian] formula should be correctly understood. I believe that
the very imperfect notion ordinarily formed of its meaning, is the chief obstacle which impedes its
reception; and that could it be cleared, even from only the grosser misconceptions, the questions
would be greatly simplified, and a large proportion of its difficulties removed. Before, therefore, I
attempt to enter into the philosophical grounds which can be given for assenting to the utilitarian
standard, I shall off some illustrations of the doctrine itself; with the view of showing more clearly
what it is, distinguishing it from what it is not, and disposing of such of the practical objections to it
as either originate in, or are closely connected with, mistaken interpretations of its meaning."
(Utilitarianism p. 255, John Stuart Mill)

Since poor understanding of the term utility is what provoked many objections and criticism, so
ambiguity about what is meant by benefit in the case of some of the fuqaha' of the Muslims is what
provoked their objections to considering it as a legal root on which to rely, let alone being the
governing criterion, and that reliance on it in recognising the principle of all that exists of the events
of the human race is something necessary so that the judgement may be in accordance with the aims
and goals of Islam in social transactions.

We found those who object to deduction by benefit alone, whether it is unarticulated or in conflict
with analogy, stating that it is making judgement in the deen by partiality. We find that al-Ghazali
claiming that the istihsan of the Malikis is invalid: "We know absolutely that the consensus of the
community is that the scholar cannot judge by his whim and penchant without examining the
evidence of proofs, and istihsan without looking into the evidence of the Shari'a is judgement by
pure whim." (Al-Mustasfa, pt. 1, p. 275)

He says about al-masalih al-mursala: "If the Shari'a does not testify, it is like istihsan." (p. 264)

Al-Ghazali thought that only using benefit which has no testimony from the Lawgiver in a text or
several indications was judging by whim. Al-Juwayni also objected to using benefits without
searching for testimony and said that it is allowing the people to judge according to their whims and
they avoid what they are averse to and that judgements would then differ with different individuals.
From this you see that the attack on considering benefit in Islamic fiqh as a governing criterion for
command and prohibition is based on the claim that it adopts the judgement of whim without a
precise rule, and so the judgements of the Shari'a would be subject to and differ by different
individuals, environments and conditions.

It is strange that since the school of utility developed in Greek philosophy after Socrates, it has been
subjected to this very attack, rather in even harsher terms. Many of those with great intelligence
among the philosophers say: "To suppose that life has (as they express it) no higher end than
pleasure - no better and nobler object of desire and pursuit - they designate as utterly mean and
grovelling; as a doctrine worthy only of swine, that the judgment that life has no finer goal other
than utility or pleasure, to whom the followers of Epicurus were, at a very early period,
contemptuously likened... When thus attacked, the Epicurians have always answered, that it is not
they, but their accusers, who represent human nature in a degrading light; since the accusation
supposes human beings to be capable of no pleasures except those of which swine are capable. ...
Human beings have faculties more elevated than the animal appetites, and when once made
conscious of them, do not regard anything as happiness which does not include their gratification."
(Mill, op cit., pp. 257-258)

This without a doubt is directed at the area which ash-Shafi'i, al-Ghazali and the al-Juwayni
attacked, considering benefit as an independent legal evidence without textual support. When there
are no texts on the subject, then they attack benefit since it is judgment by inclination or mere
compatibility and aversion.

But the school of utility attacked in European countries after they embraced Christianity was from
an aspect by which the school of benefit is not attacked in Islam: it is that adopting benefit or utility
may be contrary to the principle of asceticism to which Christian religiosity calls. That is why
European writers who supported the principle of utility tried to harmonise asceticism and utility.
These sorts of answers are not found in Islamic fiqh among those who support benefit as a basis for
commands and prohibitions and their opponents because asceticism for its own sake is not part of
Islam. Asceticism in Islam is a positive action for the benefit of others, even if it is by foregoing
personal happiness, because mortification of the flesh to purify the soul is not part of Islam. Rather
it is strengthening the body so that the soul can undertake the duty.

Now we will proceed to clarify what is meant by benefit. Muslim fuqaha' state that Muslim
responsibilities fall into two categories. The first is acts of worship, which is the system of the
connection between man and his Lord, and they affirm that the basis in this category is devotion. So
the texts about it are not causal in their whole, or to be more precise, a person cannot find in acts of
worship the motives and ends for which they exist and on which their likes could be based.
Someone does not impose on himself an act of worship which the Lawgiver did not impose
whatever the logic. In addition to this prohibition, it is obligatory for the Muslims to believe that
these responsibilities in worship are for the benefit of man, even if he cannot legislate the like of
them by wisdom, benefit, or motives. He must stop at what the texts state and what they indicate
and what it connected to them without adding to them.

As for the second category of responsibilities, which are connected to the social transactions of the
human race with one another. This is what the usage of the fuqaha' terms 'customs'. The basis in
that category is turning to the reasons and motives for which the judgements were legislated by the
agreement of the fuqaha'. Responsibility in these matters is for the sake of forming a virtuous
Islamic polity based on justice and virtue.
Ash-Shatibi affirmed that principle in al-Muwafaqat. It is any attention given to customs is for one
of three reasons.

"1. If we investigate, we find that the Lawgiver intended the welfare of people. In customary
judgements you may see something forbidden in one case in which there is no benefit, and then
permitted when there is benefit, as dirham for dirham on credit is forbidden in the sale but permitted
in the loan. Selling fresh dates for dry is forbidden when it is simple risk and usury without benefit,
but permitted when there is predominant benefit in it. The Almighty says, "There is life for you in
retaliation, people of intelligence," (2:179) and He says, "Do not swallow up one another's property
by false means." (2:188) In hadith, "The judge does not give judgement while he is angry." The
Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "No harm and no causing injury." He also
said, "The killer does not inherit," and he forbade the sale with uncertainty. He also said, "Every
intoxicant is unlawful." The Almighty says, "Shaytan wants to stir up enmity and hatred between
you by means of wine and gambling, and to debar you from the remembrance of Allah and from the
prayer" (5:91) and other countless judgements and texts. All of which indicate, indeed explicitly
state that the consideration of welfare is a basis for permission and prohibition, and that permission
is a mobile one.
2. The Lawgiver was flexible in clarifying causes and wisdoms in the rules of social relations
between people and customary matters between them. Most of the causes are logically connected to
welfare. We understand from that that the Lawgiver meant for people to follow the reasons in them,
not to merely stop with the texts – which is not the case with acts of worship. Worship is only
established by a text.

3. Addressing the causal factors, which are benefits, exists at times when there are no Messengers,
i.e. so that their welfare can exist and their livelihoods will be in in order. The Shari'a comes to
perfect good character and customs. This is why the Shari'a confirms a group of judgements which
occurred in the Jahiliyya, like blood money, the group oath, the commenda and the like of that
which were praised among the the people of the Jahiliyya and whatever good customs and noble
character which intellects accept: and they are many." (al-Muwaqafat, pt. 2., p. 213)

So the manifest principle governing the legality of customs and traditions in the eyes of the Shari'a
is whether or not they are beneficial in real terms. But what is the criterion used in the Shari'a to
ascertain whether or not a particular matter contains benefit? To discover that we have to ascertain
exactly what it is that makes a particular action permitted or forbidden.

What, then, is the nature of the benefit which makes an action acceptable in the eyes the Islamic
Shari'a? It is that which coincides with its goals, and the goal of the Islamic Shari'a is to preserve
the five things whose preservation is agreed to be obligatory: life, sanity, property, progeny and
honour. All religions agree on the obligation to preserve these things and have that point in
common. All rational people concur that society is based on protecting and preserving these things.

Scholars of usul divide preservation of action into three grades and base restitution on the basis of
their order: necessities, needs and recommendations.

1. Necessities are those things which are necessary for the establishment of the welfare of the deen
and this world, and when they are lacking, the benefits of the deen are not in order resulting in
disorder and loss of life. The preservation of these necessities is by establishing them, making their
rules firm, and by averting disorder, actual or probable. This is why foods, drinks, clothes,
behaviour and their organisation is permitted. They are those things which society must have if it is
to function. This is why such crimes are fought with retaliation, blood money, ensuring the value of
property, the cutting off of hands, flogging, and other things which are intended to avert actual and
likely disorder. So the basis of necessities is to establish those five matters.

2. As for needs, they are connected to what is less than those five, but their absence entails
constriction. Thus needs are prescribed for expansion and to remove the constriction which usually
results in distress and hardship. When needs are not cared for, people experience distress and
hardship. This is like permitting hunting and enjoying good things which a man can dispense with,
albeit with constriction, but when they are allowed there is expansion.

3. As for recommendations, their omission does not lead to constriction, but they are part of good
character and good customs. So then they consist of adopting what is proper and avoiding what is
not proper of dishonourable things which superior intellects disdain, like manners in eating and
drinking, and being free of prodigality and niggardliness, and so forth. We do not want to go into
detail about that.

What is noticeable is that in most cases benefits are not free of evils accompanying them, and evils
are not lacking some benefit connected to them. Benefits are connected to harms and harms are not
lacking in some utility. Ash-Shatibi explained that established reality in by the fact that benefits are
intermixed with responsibilities and hardships are connected to them, or before or after them: like
eating, drinking, clothes, dwellings, riding, marriage, etc. These matters are only obtained by toil
and fatigue. Similarly evils of this world are not pure evil in existence since there is no evil
conceivable in normal custom but that it is often accompanied, preceded, or followed by kindness,
gentleness, and obtaining pleasures. That is because this world was set up as a mixture of the two
matters. Whoever seeks to purify one of them from the other will not be able to do so, and the
experience of that is a truthful witness. That is because this abode is the abode of testing, as the
Almighty says, "We test you with both good and evil as a trial," (21:35) and as He says, "He who
created death and life to test which of you is best in action." (67:2)

This is what is self-evident in existence. Ibn al-Qayyim divided things into five categories
according to logical hypothesis without looking at its realisation in existence.The first category is
that which is pure benefit; the second is what is predominantly benefit; the third is what is pure
harm; the fourth is what is mostly harm; and the fifth is that in which harm and utility are equal.

He mentioned this categorisation in respect of logical hypothesis. As for everyday reality, the
theorists argue about the existence of three categories while they all agree on the existence of the
other two: what is predominantly benefit and what is predominantly harm. As for the rest of the
five, which are pure benefit, pure harm, and that in which they are equal, they are the subject of

Some scholars say that neither pure benefit nor pure harm exist. Ibn al-Qayyim reported that they
say: "Benefit is bliss and pleasure and what leads to them, and evil is punishment and pain and what
leads to them. Everything must be accompanied by endurance of a type of pain. Even if there is
pleasure and happiness in it, some detriment occurs, but since this is overshadowed by benefit, it is
not noticed and the benefit is not nullified because of it so that that which is predominantly
abundant good should be abandoned for the sake of a small overshadowed evil. It is like that with
the evil which is forbidden. A man does it because he desires and wants it, and this is an immediate
benefit. When he is forbidden it and leaves it, he lacks its benefit and immediate pleasure and its
harm is greater than its benefit and indeed, its benefit overcome by its harm as the Almighty says
about wine and gambling, "Say, 'There is great wrong in both of them and also certain benefits for
mankind. But the wrong in them is greater than the benefit.'" (2:219) So even though usury,
injustice, and drinking wine are evil and harmful, they contain use and pleasure for the one who
does them. This is why he prefers them and chooses them. Otherwise, if he had experienced their
harm from every aspect, he would not do them at all. The most intelligent person is the one who
leaves them the most because of their predominant harm in the end, even if there is pleasure and a
little enjoyment in it in respect to its harm.

This is the argument which Ibn al-Qayyim presented for those who do not think that existence
contains anything completely beneficial or anything completely evil. As for those who affirm that in
existence, they said that it is confirmed that there are things in existence which are good without
any evil in them and others which are evil without any good in them: the good Prophets and the
pure angels are good without any evil in them, and Iblis the Accursed and his helpers are evil with
no good in them. There are individuals who are are completely good and so there are actions which
must be purely good, and some of which are purely evil. Allah described magic as harmful and not
beneficial where He says, "They have learned what will harm them and will not benefit them."
(2:102) So it is a judgement that it is pure evil and we cannot deny the judgement of Allah

Ibn al-Qayyim separates the opponents when he says: "The conclusion is that if what is meant by
pure benefit is that it is pure in itself and not mixed with any harm, then there is no doubt that it
exists. If what is meant is that the benefit is not mixed with hardship or injury in its path and means
to it, not in itself, it does not exist since benefits and good things, pleasures and perfections are all
only obtained by a portion of hardship, and one does not reach them except through toil. Intelligent
people of every nation agree that bliss is not obtained by bliss and that the one who prefers rest
lacks rest, and that it is according to enduring terrors and bearing hardships that there is joy and
pleasure. There is no joy for someone who has no sorrow. There is no pleasure for the one who has
no patience, no bliss for someone with no misery, and no rest for the one with no fatigue. When
someone is a little tired, he has long rest. When he endures the difficulty of steadfastness for a time,
that leads him to eternal life. All that the people of eternal bliss are in is steadfastness for a time.
Allah is the One who is asked for help. There is no strength except by Allah. Whenever souls are
nobler and aspiration is higher, then the fatigue of the body is greater and the share of rest is less."
(op. cit.)

We find that in his presentation which Ibn al-Qayyim considers to be a conclusion of this dispute,
he states certain things:

1. That some benefits are pure, but hardship may occur in endurance in obtaining them. So what is
desired is pure benefit but the means to it has pain.

2. He stated that the greatest hardship is with pure benefit since its pure good is commensurate with
the effort of acquisition, expending of effort and great endurance.

3. He ends with the fact that when souls are noble and aspiration is higher, then the effort of the
body is greater and rest is less and the personal utility of the doer is spiritual and the physical use is
later and not immediate.

The second question on which there is a dispute is the existence of something in which the benefit
and harm, or its use and corruption, or its good or evil, are equal. Some people affirm its existence
and some deny it. Ibn al-Qayyim - and we along with him - state that this category has no existence
in this world even if logic stipulates a portion for it. When benefit and harm, and use and
corruption, pleasure and pain, are opposite one another, one of them must dominate the other, and
so the judgement goes to the predominant.

To sum up, the Lawgiver only gave permission for that which is benefit and he only forbade what is
harmful. It is within the capacity of the human intellect to perceive the most outstanding benefit in
things of this world and to recognise them and to obtain them by the command of the Lawgiver,
even if there is no explicit text on them because general commands and analysis of judgements
indicate that the Shari'a is directed in its universal and partial rulings to obtaining benefit and
repelling harm.

As for what is connected to the relationship of a person with his Lord, it is not easy to recognise the
outstanding benefits in it, even if the intellect can perceive some of its wisdoms in the whole. That
is why he can discern the benefits of the world, even if there is no specific text, but he cannot
legislate an act of worship without a text. Furthermore that is innovation in the deen and every
innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Fire, as the hadith clearly states.

Muslim fuqaha' criticise connect appetites to benefits or whim to uses. Is whim or appetite
considered to be inseparable from the considered benefit legally or are benefits distinct from whim
and appetites?

The Muslim fuqaha' argued about when benefits conflict, and the benefit of one people is harm to
others, or the benefit is for one part of the community and harm for another part. Muslim fuqaha'
discussed these two matters as did moralists in relation to utilitarianism.

They stated in relation to the first matter, the connection of desires to benefits, that it is not
established that they are inseparable. Desires and pure appetites are not discerned in the benefits
which are considered and settled in the Shari'a. What is considered in benefits is that which will
establish this world as a bridge to the Next, i.e. what will make the life of this world one of virtue
and mutual help, not of mutual severance and discord.

There are four pieces of evidence to establish that what is meant by benefits is not what is
inseparable from desire or simple appetite.

The first of this is that Shari'a came to prevent people from simply following their passions
because Allah Almighty says, "If the truth were to follow their whims and desires, the heavens and
the earth and everyone in them would have been brought to ruin." (23:71) It has not come for the
following of appetites, but it has come to strengthen resolve and the formation of perfect character;
the benefits by which society is firmly established are strong foundations

Second is the agreement of intelligent people from earliest times that benefit is that by which life is
supported and on which society is based, and that the preservation of it can be mixed with pains or
pleasures. Moreover, that which one considers the goal which might be encircled by disliked things
may not actually be where man's passion lies. That has been noticed by intelligent people in every
nation past and present. This indicates that the passion does not enter into the calculation of benefit.

The third is that utilities and harms are usually relative and not real.They are relative since they are
utilities or harms in one case rather than another, and in relation to one person rather than another or
one time rather than another. For instance, eating and drinking are clearly beneficial for man when
he needs to eat and when what is eaten is delicious and wholesome, not disliked or bitter, and does
not produce harm immediately or later, and the aspect of obtaining it is not connected with harm,
immediately or later, nor is harm connected to someone else because of it, immediately or later.
These matters are rarely joined together, and thus many benefits are harmful for someone, or
harmful in one time or state and not harmful in another state.

The fourth is that desires vary regarding the same thing since the fulfilment of the desire of one
may harm someone else since he has a different desire. So the result of the difference in many cases
is that the observance of the Shari'a will prevent benefits which take desire into account because
their rules are not fixed except by observing the benefits free from desires.

This is the first matter and so we move to the second matter, which is what the Shari'a demands
when there is a conflict of benefits and a conflict of evils so that as choosing some benefits entails
ignoring the benefit of others, or averting some evils entails evil for others. Muslim fuqaha' say that
what is preferred is the one which procures the most and most necessary benefits and that which
averts the most harm and injury. The clearest statements about that can be found in al-Muwafaqat
of ash-Shatibi, Miftah Dar as-Sa'ada by Ibn al-Qayyim, and the Risala of at-Tufi.

Ibn al-Qayyim says, "When you reflect on the laws of the Deen of Allah which He set up between
His servants, you will find that they do not fail to procure pure or predominant benefits
commensurate with possibility. If there is a conflict, then the most important of them is favoured,
even if the least is lost. Similarly, when does not fail to stop specific or predominant evils according
to possibility and there is a conflict, then the most harmful of them is stopped by enduring the least
of them. It is on this basis that the Wisest of the judges set up the laws of His Deen which indicate
Him and attest to the perfection of His knowledge and wisdom, and His kindness to His slaves and
goodness to them. This sentence leaves no doubt for someone who has a taste of the Shari'a and has
been nurtured by it and has drunk from the purity of its basin." (Miftah Dar as-Sa'ada, p. 350)

At-Tufi said: "If they are multiple so that there are two or more benefits in the place, and it is
possible to obtain all of them, that is done. If it is not possible, then what is possible is obtained. If it
is impossible to more than one benefit and the benefits vary in importance, then the most important
is taken." (p. 768)

You see from this that Muslim fuqaha' state that the desired benefit or utility from the Lawgiver is
that whose use is for the greatest possible number with the strongest possibility, and that the harm
which is repelled is harm for the greatest number with the strongest possibility, and that things in
that are relative and comparative.

Benefit and Texts

We have already explained how the Islamic Shari'a is based on benefits and that the most evident of
benefits in dealings between people can be identified while the most evident utility in acts of
worship cannot be completely grasped. We quoted scholars who studied this topic who noted that
the the legality of ideas of dealings which the responsible person perceived can be discerned, but
acts of worship are not like that. We clarified the rules which regulate the desired benefits and
which are the intended causes in the legality of Islamic dealings.

We indicated that there scholars differ about considering benefit as an independent principle. Now
we want to give some details on this subject. Benefits which do not have a specific text which
testifies that its category is considered is termed al-masalih al-mursala, and whether or not it is is a
legal principle is debated among the fuqaha'. Al-Qarafi claimed that all the fuqaha' use it and
consider it evidence in partial decisions, even if most of them deny that it is a principle in
universals. He says on that:
"The unarticulated benefit is explicitly denied by others, but in the case of secondary rulings we
find that they use the generality of benefit as cause; and in differences and comprehensive manners,
even if they do not accept that it is considered. They rely on mere appropriateness and this is the
unarticulated benefit." (Tanqih, p. 200)

Whether or not that claim is sound, it is confirmed that the consideration of benefits for which there
is no specific text to be considered is a view about which scholars disagree. The statements of
scholars regarding it are fall into four categories:

1. The Shafi'ites and those who adopt their method. They do not use masalih mursala when
there is no testimony from the Lawgiver because they only use texts and applying analogy based on
them. If we follow al-Qarafi, we say that it is rare for them to use benefit without analogy.
2. The Hanafis and those like them who use istihsan with analogy. Istihsan is part of what they
say and it is not lacking in reliance on general benefits, and in fact, we would say that they use
benefits in their deduction more than the Shaf'Ôites, even if the actual amount is little in itself since
they do not reckon these benefits to be one of their principles since they rarely rely purely on it.
3. Those who go to extreme in adopting benefits so that they put benefit before the text in
people's dealings and believe that it makes it specific. Indeed, they believe that it make consensus
specific, i.e. that when the scholars agree on something by a text and find it is opposed to benefit in
some aspects, they advance consideration of the benefit, and also consider that a specification. At-
Tufi took that position.
4. Those who are balanced. They have the soundest insight and consider unarticulated benefits in
things in which there is no unequivocal text: they are most of the Malikis. We will speak about the
opinions of these last two categories.

Those who say that benefit is an independent principle which is used when there is no text agree
that when an actual or likely benefit exists, then it is desirable. The dispute is when there is both
benefit and the text (unequivocal in its isnad and evidence) and there is a conflict between them. At-
Tufi prescribed that the conflict be examined and he advanced benefit before that text. The Malikis,
and those who follow their method among the Hanbalis other than at-Tufi, postulate that benefit is
established when this text exists. It is not possible for there to be a confirmed or predominant
benefit when an unequivocal text clashes with it. It is misguided thought, an impulse of passion,
appetite, or preferring a non-essential state which is not abiding, or an immediate utility which will
soon vanish or in fact, a utility whose existence is doubtful. It is unsustainable when there is
definitive a text which has come from the wise Lawgiver and has been. When the judgment is
established by a probable text - either in isnad or evidence – it is reported from Malik how what is
probable is specified by analogy if its evidence is closely connected and it is based on an
unequivocal basis. He also considers benefit to be of that type. If its probability is established by an
unequivocal means, then we have two conflicting principles before us: one of them is probable in its
isnad or evidence, and the other unequivocal in its motives and confirmation. In this case the
unequivocal is advanced over the probable. If the text is a single tradition, this weakens it, because
when it differs from a confirmed predominant benefit, it opposes the sum of firm legal testimonies
to seeking benefits and repelling harms.

Malik employed benefit in transactions and considered it to be independent evidence which did not
rely on anything else. When benefit existed, he took it, whether it had specific testimony from the
Shari'a for consideration or not. This is what the fuqaha' call 'al-masalih al-mursala.' Malik used it.
When it clashed with probable texts and there was a conflict between them, he preferred to adopt it
and make the text specific or to weaken its isnad if it was general. If there was no contrary text, he
took it. He followed that through in a profound manner in his understanding of the beneficial ideas.
Then he paid attention to the intention of the Lawgiver, which he did not leave and he did not
oppose any of its principles so that scholars might find many aspects of his procedure offensive,
claiming that he had loosened the rope and opened the door of legislation. How unlikely! How far
from that he was! He is the one who was pleased in his fiqh to follow so that some people imagined
the he merely imitated those before him. He had insight into the deen of Allah. (al-I'tisam, pt. 2, p.

In taking masalih mursala as an independent legal principle, Malik was a follower and not an
innovator. He found the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, doing various things after his death which had not been done while he was alive.

• They collected the Noble QurÕan into a bound book – something which had not been done
during the lifetime of the Messenger – because of the inherent benefit in it, dictated by the
fear that the QurÕan might be forgotten through the death of those who had memorised it.
When 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, saw many of the memorisers of the QurÕan
fall in the Ridda War, he feared that the QurÕan might be lost through their deaths and so he
suggested to Abu Bakr that it should be collected together into a book. The Companions
agreed to that and were pleased with it.

• The Companions of the Messenger agreed after his death that the hadd for wine-drinking
should be 80 lashes in view of the principle of masalih mursala, since they observed that
one of the consequences of intoxication was the slander of chaste women

• The Rightly-guided Khalifs agreed to make artisans responsible for any goods of other
people they were working on, even though the basic position is that is the things in oneÕs
possession are a trust (under Islamic law trustees are not responsible for unintentional
damage to goods in their keeping). They did so because it was found that if they were not
made liable for them they would make light of guarding other peopleÕs goods and property.
So in this case public interest demanded that artisans should be made liable.

• 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, used to confiscate half of the wealth
of governors who combined their personal wealth with government assets and then used
their position as governor to make a profit on it. The benefit involved in that ruling was that
he thought it that would reform the governors and keep them from exploiting the office of
governorship for their own ends.

• It is also reported of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab that he poured away milk which had been diluted
with water, as a punishment for cheating. That was for the general benefit in order that
people might be protected from being cheated.

• It is also transmitted that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab had a group of people executed for the
murder of one person when they all participated in the murder, because public interest
demanded that even though no text existed to support it. The benefit in this lies in the fact
that it would otherwise become possible to shed inviolable blood with impunity, resulting in
a loophole in the principle of retaliation. People would use assistance and partnership as a
means to commit murder since it would be known that no retaliation would be demanded. If
it is said that this is an innovative matter by which other parties than the killer are executed
even when they were not all actually involved in the act of killing, the argument refuting this
is that the killing group is a collective and so collective execution is the same as executing
an individual, since killing is ascribed to the collective in the same way as it is ascribed to an
individual. Therefore, individuals who join together with the aim of killing are considered as
a single person. Public interest demands this since it involves the prevention of bloodshed
and the protection of society.

Malik found all these things and a great fund of other legal judgements which had been left the
fuqaha' of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them. Since he followed their methods and
adhered to their path it was impossible that he should stray from the aim and goal of the Lawgiver.
His fatwas were given with the object of ensuring benefit in all matters, both public and private.

Part of his attention to benefit in general matters was allowing homage to the less excellent when
there exists someone who is more entitled to the khalifate than him, because invalidating that would
lead to disorder, not establishing the benefits of people in the world, and chaos for a short time in
which injustices are are committed which are not committed over a period of years.

Part of it is when the treasury is empty or there the army has needs and there is not enough to cover
it. The Imam can impose on the rich what he thinks will be adequate immediately so there is money
in the treasury or there is enough. He should impose this tax at times of receiving revenue and the
harvest so that that will not lead to alienating hearts. The aspect of benefit is that if the just leader
does not do that, his might will be hollow and dwellings will become subject to sedition and subject
to being occupied by attackers. It might be said that instead of imposing this tax, the leader can
borrow for the treasury. Ash-Shatibi replied to that: "Borrowing occurs in times of crisis when the
treasury is expecting revenue. If nothing is expected and the prospects of income are weak so that it
is not adequate, then the judgement of the tax must be carried out."

Part of that if that if the haram is widespread in the land or in part of the land and it is difficult to
move and the means of honest earnings are blocked and their is need for increase in order to stay
alive, when they cannot alter the situation and it is impossible to move to a land where the Shari'a is
in force and it is is easy to earn lawfully, then individuals can with reluctance accept some of these
foul earnings out of dire necessity and need such that if they did not take it, they would be in
constriction and greater hardship. So they are like the one who is compelled when he fears death if
he does not eat from what is unlawful, like carrion and pork. They can take beyond bare necessity to
satisfy need since if they confined themselves to bare necessity, earnings and actions would be
worthless and people would remain suffering that until they perish. That would entail the ruin of the

But they should not exceed need for wealth and comfort. That is considered taking pleasure in evil
and not considered remedying a rare unusual state in the legal system of Islam: the predominance of
the haram in one of the lands of the Muslims.

We see from this how Malik proceeded in his legal derivation on the basis of dealing with the
affairs of the Community by that which entails its good and welfare, and so that its affairs are easy,
and not trouble, constriction, distress or hardship.

Those who study the Maliki school and know the means of deduction in it will notice that Malik's
deduction of the use of masalih mursala contains indications of matters which are tantamount to
limitations on its empowerment. They are:

1. Harmony between the benefit which is adopted and the aims of the Shari'a on the whole
inasmuch as it does not negate any of its principles or any of its definitive evidence.

2. It is intelligible in itself. Logical relationships occur which are presented to people of intelligence
who accept them.
3. Making use of it removes a inherent constriction in the deen. If the logical benefit were not taken
in its place, people would be in distress. Allah Almighty says: "We did not place any constraint on
you in the deen."

These limitations without a doubt prevent those who would give it free rein so that the affairs of
people would proceed according to appetites and desires. Malik did not vary from a definitive text
except for pressing necessity. If necessity arises, then it is permitted to omit some binding
obligations in the state of choice. That is established by unequivocal texts.

Islamic fiqh takes benefits into consideration and that is noticed in all its judgments. However, the
between its fuqaha' is in considering it as an independent source to be relied on in derivation
without being derived from another source in the form of a text or action of the Prophet. All agree
that benefit is taken into consideration in this case since it is one of the types of analogy, even if the
resemblance which produces the analogy is not effected. Malik and Ibn Hanbal said that it is used.
As for the Hanafis and ShafiÔis, the Hanafis use it in what they call istihsan because on the whole,
it is only subject to the principle of custom, empowered benefit, or necessity. That without a doubt
is subject to the idea of procuring benefit and repelling harm and removing distress and hardship.
The one who consults the principles of the Hanafi school will find much in it which is based on

Such the position of benefit in Islamic fiqh, which is the first aim of its laws in the transactions
between people. Attention is paid to it in its immediate and further aims. Fuqaha' agree that it is
considered and they agree that it is used. Their disagreement is not in the affirmation of its
principle, but in the amount of their reliance on intellect alone in perceiving it without the help of a
text. Some people went to excess in trusting in the judgements of the intellect particular to benefits
so that they made the judgement of the intellect that a certain matter contains benefit stand contrary
to the unequivocal text and specify it, and have it specify unequivocal consensus when it is
established. Others went to excess and stopped at the texts and only acknowledge benefits by means
of them, and they suspect the intellects in their perception of them. There is no doubt that this
hesitation in perceiving the benefits in worldly matters is not acceptable. The Messenger of Allah,
may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "You know better the affairs of your world."

The Imam of the Abode of the Hijra followed the Straight Path and did not allow the judgements of
the intellect to exceed their role in benefits and overstep their place. He did not let them clash with
unequivocal texts and judgements reached by consensus. He did not confine the intellect and forbid
it to perceive benefits except by means of texts. His method was direct and balanced in that without
negligence or excess. So the school was productive and rich with ideas without exceeding proper
bounds or going beyond moderation and balance. It contains treatments for people's ills and a
flexibility which allows it to encompass the customs of people and their circumstances in different
manners and environments, without innovation or going outside the Shari'a. He did not abandon
imitation and following. Allah Almighty is the One who inspires to what is correct.
The Tenth Source: The Principle of Means (adh-Dhara'i')

This is another of the principles on which Imam Malik often relied when deriving judgements and
in that respect Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal closely resembled him. We will begin our discussion with
the meaning and categories of this term and then see how it becomes a legal principle which can be
used as evidence.

The meaning of dhari'a is "means". Sadd adh-dhara'i' (blocking the means) implies preventing
them, which entails making the means to what is forbidden also forbidden; and fath adh-dhara'i'
(facilitating the means) entails making the means to what is obligatory also obligatory. Thus
because adultery is unlawful, looking at the private parts of a unrelated woman is also unlawful
because it is likely to lead to adultery. Because the Jumu'a prayer is an obligation, going to it is also
an obligation, and leaving off trading to go to it is also obligatory. Hajj is an obligation, and going
to the Sacred House and the other practices of Hajj are obligatory for its sake.

Sources of judgements fall into two categories: objectives, which are benefits, harmful matters; and
means, which are the paths leading to them. Their judgement is like the judgement of that which
leads to prohibition or allowance, although they have a lesser rank than those which are judged to
be objectives. Al-Qarafi says: "The means to the best of goals is the best of means, and to the worst
of goals is the worst of goals. That which is in the middle is in the middle." (Tanqih, p. 200) Ibn al-
Qayyim explained that principle:

Since objectives can only be reached by the causes and paths which lead to them, then those paths
and causes which follow them must be taken into consideration. The means to unlawful things and
acts of rebellion are disliked and prohibited inasmuch as they lead to their consequences, and the
means to acts of obedience and acts of nearness are recommended and permitted inasmuch as they
lead to their objectives. The means to the objective is subordinate to the objective, and both of them
are intended, but their being intended is the objective of the ends. They are intended as the means to
what is intended. When the Lord forbade something which has means which lead to it, He also
made the means unlawful and forbade them in order to achieve the prohibition and confirm it, and
to prevent people approaching it. If the means leading to it were allowed, that would impair the
prohibition and entice people to it. His wisdom and knowledge completely rejects that. Indeed, it is
the policy of the kings of the world to reject that. When one of them forbids his army or people or
household something and then permits them the means, causes, and paths which lead to it, that is
considered a contradiction. It achieves the opposite of his aim in his people and army. It is like that
with doctors when they want to terminate an illness: they forbid the one who has it the paths and
means which lead to it. Otherwise, what they desire to mend will be spoiled for them. So what did
do you think about the Shari'a which is in the highest ranks of wisdom, benefit and perfection?
Whoever reflects on its sources and roots will know that Allah Almighty and His Messenger
forbade the means which leads to unlawful things as He forbade and prohibited the things
themselves." (I'lam, pt. 3, p. 119f.)

The basis for the assessment of blocking means is to examine the consequences of actions and what
they lead to as a whole. If they lead towards benefits, which are the objectives of human
transactions with one another, they are desirable commensurate with how appropriate they are to the
quest for these goals, even if they are not the same as it in the goal. If their consequences are
directed towards evils, they are forbidden as corresponds to the prohibition of these evils, even if
the amount of prohibition is less in the means.
Investigation into these consequences is not done by examining the goal and intention of the doer.
One looks at the result and fruit of the action. It is according to the intention that a person is
rewarded or punished in the Next World, but it is according to the result and fruit that the action is
good or repellent, or desirable or forbidden in this world, because this world is based on the welfare
of people and on equity and justice. This requires investigating the result and fruit after the
reckoned intention and good aim. If someone curses idols sincerely out of devotion to Allah
Almighty, his intention will be reckoned with Allah in his claim, but He forbade cursing since that
results in the resentment of the idolaters and they may curse Allah Almighty. The Almighty says:
"Do not curse those they call upon besides Allah, in case that makes them curse Allah in animosity,
without knowledge." (6:108) That which is noted in this noble prohibition is the result which occurs,
not the religious intention.

We see from this that the prohibition in what leads to sin or corruption is not directed to the
intention alone. It is directed to the result as well and so it is forbidden because of its result. Allah
knows the sincere intention.

A person may intend evil by a permitted action and thus sin in what is between him and Allah, but
no one has a way against him nor can judge that his actions are legally baseless. This is like
someone who makes a reduction in his sale in order to injure a trader with whom he is in
competition. Without a doubt that is a permitted action although it is a means to sin and so it is
harming in itself and he actually intended that. In spite of that, the action is not judged in any
respect to be invalid and it does not fall under the clear prohibition of the judicial decision. From
the aspect of intention, this action is a means to evil, and from its apparent aspect, it is a means to
both general and specific benefit. There is no doubt that the buyer benefits from his purchase, the
marketability of his trade and good reception for it; and there is general benefit in that reduction and
it may lead to a lowering of prices.

So the principle of blocking means does not only involve intentions and personal aims as you see,
but also what it intends of general benefit or averting general harm. It examines the result with the
intention or the result alone.

Ash-Shatibi posed a case in which the doer intends to benefit himself and harm others, and there is
no general benefit or general harm in the case. He said about the judgement of this case:

"There is no obscurity about the prohibition of the aim of harming inasmuch as it is harm since the
evidence is established that 'there is no harm and no causing injury' in Islam, but it remains to
examine this action which includes both intending a benefit and intending harm to someone else: is
it forbidden so that it becomes not permitted or does it retain its basic permissibility while he sins in
his intention? This is part of that in which disagreement is conceivable in general. Moreover
elaboration is possible in ijtihad. It is that when that action can be changed in a manner which will
procure that benefit or avert that harm, he will obtain what he wants in the first place. If that is the
case, there is no ambiguity in prohibiting it because by that he only intends harm. If there is no way
to avoid that aspect by which someone else is harmed, then avoidance or repelling is favoured over
the aim of causing harm." (al-Muwaqafat, pt. 2, p. 242)

It is clear from this that the basis of blocking takes no account of intention in permission or
prohibition. Investigation is directed to the results. If the result of the action will be general benefit,
it is obligatory. If it leads to evil, it is forbidden because evil is forbidden and so what leads to it is
forbidden. What leads to the desirable benefit is desirable. Investigation of this principle shows us
that it is affirmed by the confirmation of the previous principle: the procurement of benefits and
repelling of harms as much as possible. Since the aim of the Shari'a is to establish welfare by
imposing the judgement of the deen in it and repelling corruption and prohibiting harm wherever it
is, all of the means and reasons which lead to that have the same judgement as that basic aim:
seeking benefit and repelling harm and injury. What is meant by benefit is general utility, and by
harm is the harm which befalls a large number of people. That is why if holding to permissible
personal benefits for a person will lead to general harm or prevent a general benefit, then holding to
it is forbidden in order to block the means and to prefer general over private utility. Thus meeting
goods before they arrive in markets and taking them to control the markets is forbidden because,
even if it permitted in its basis, it is a type of purchase which, if permitted, will cause constriction to
people and freedom of exchange will not be established. Thus there is general harm in allowing
permission and so it is forbidden to block the means and the prohibition is general, even if some of
the people who meet them have a good and rewardable intention.

Ibn al-Qayyim divides means into two categories in respect to their results:

Action or words leading to evil, which has two grades:

Grade One: Doing it leads to it: like drinking the intoxicant which leads to intoxication, slander
which leads to lying, and fornication which leads to confusion in paternity and corruption, and the
like. These are words and deeds which lead to evils, and they clearly are nothing else.

Grade Two: Doing it leads something permitted or recommended, but it can be taken as a means to
the unlawful, either intentionally or unintentionally. The first is like someone who contracts a
marriage by which he intends to make a woman lawful to a previous husband or concludes a sale
intending usury. The second is like someone who curses the deities of the idolaters in their
presence. Then this category of means has two sub-divisions, one of which is that the benefit of the
action is more likely than its harm, and so there are four categories.

The four derived divisions are:

1. Something forbidden which must lead to harm, like drinking wine, slander and fornication.
2. Something permitted which it is intended as a means to an evil.
3. Something permitted which may contain evil but is more likely to bring benefit.
4. That which is more likely to bring evil.

These divisions are sound in respect to logical hypothesis, but the first division is not considered
part of means. It is counted among the aims because wine, fornication and slander, usury,
wrongfully consuming people's property, misappropriation, and theft are harms in themselves and
not means to worse evils.

As for the discussion on the means which are instruments which lead to evil, their avoidance is
called 'blocking means', and those which lead to the procurement of benefits and are desirable are,
according to the words of al-Qarafi, 'the opening of means.'

The first division is not termed 'blocking' means because it itself is evil. So the three other
categories are those which are included in this division. Since the psychological goal is not
considered in respect of worldly judgements even though it has consideration in respect of the
reward and penalty, we leave that intention as we are dealing with the actualisation of worldly
judgements. We consider ash-Shatibi's division of actions as it is composed of evils or of evil
connected to other than the doer. He divided that into four categories:
1. What leads definitely to harm, like digging a well next to the door of a house in the dark so
that one who enters the house must fall into it, and the like.
2. What rarely leads to harm, like digging a well in a place which would not normally lead
anyone to fall into it and selling foods which normally do not harm anyone.
3. What often leads to harm such that it is probable that it will lead to it, like selling weapons at
a time of civil war and selling grapes for wine, and other things which of which it is highly
probable, but not definite that they will lead to harm.
4. What often leads to harm, but does not reach the level where the intellect thinks it probable
that it will always lead to it, like questions about usurious sales which may lead to usury

These are four categories, and we will speak on every category in order to clarify it.

As for the first category, which is that which definitely leads to harm, it is the action which in
itself is forbidden as is what leads to harm, and there are two prohibitions in it: the prohibition itself
and the prohibition of what leads to it, and so it is a multiple prohibition and the forbidding is

If the action is basically permitted, then we can approach the matter in one of two ways: one is to
look at the permission itself and the second is to look at the evils which result from it. There is no
doubt that the side of evils predominates, especially if these evils will definitely occur in the normal
course of things, and he prefers to do that, and evils occur through it – which is inevitable – then he
is liable to the one who received the injury. That is because he intended that action along with
whatever harm would definitely result from it and the transgressor is liable for his transgression.

The second category is that from which harm rarely results. It remains basically permitted as
long as the action is permitted. That is because actions are connected to the probable, not the rare.
When the action is basically permitted, the permission is only because the aspect of benefit is
dominant. Harm only ensues in rare cases. That is because a pure benefit only exists rarely. The
Lawgiver considered the predominance of benefit in the decisions about matters and did not
consider the rare harm.

The third category is what will probably result in harm when it is done, but it is not definite
and not considered rare. In this case predominant opinion is connected to definitive knowledge
because blocking means obliges curtailment of the harm as much as possible. There is no doubt that
curtailment demands the use of likelihood and because opinion in actual judgments occurs as
knowledge. So here it follows its course. It is also because allowing it is a type of mutual help to sin
and aggression and that is not permitted.

The fourth category is that which often results in harm, but does not reach the level of
probability so that the aspect of harm is preferred over the basis of permission in the action, like
selling on credit which often leads to usury, even if it is not predominant.

Here strong aspects of the view conflict. One is to look at the basis of the legality, and the basis of
the legality is that the benefit is predominant for the doer. That is why the Lawgiver permitted it.
The second is the harm which is frequent, even if it is not predominant. Abu Hanifa and ash-Shafi'i
considered the basis of the legality. That is why they permit the behaviour and say there is no
justification for prohibiting it since the prohibition is not based on knowledge or supposition. So the
basis of legality remains.
This is the view of Abu Hanifa and ash-Shafi'i who preferred the aspect of legality because it is the
basic position. Malik looked at the other side, which is also strong: the frequency of harm which
results from the action, even if it is not predominant.

Malik preferred that aspect over others for three reasons:

1. He looks at the actuality, not the intentions. It can happen that the evils which result from the
action are numerous, even if that is disputed. So harm soon occurs and care taken to avoid it in the
action. Several evils result in precautions being taken against them when they are probable or
known absolutely in the course of customs. There is knowledge of the numerous resulting harms. It
is established in fiqh that repelling harm is favoured over procuring benefits.

2. In this case two principles conflict because the basis of the action is permissibility as it is the
basis of the duty. There is a second principle, which is preserving the human being from harming
and causing pain to another. The second principle is favoured because of the great number of
resulting harms, and the prohibition is for prevention. Thus the action leaves its root, which is
permission, for the second root, which is prohibition in order to block the means to evil.

3. Sound traditions have come forbidding matters which are basically permitted because in many
cases they lead to evils, even if they are not probable or definite. The Messenger of Allah, may
Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade being alone with an unrelated woman and for a
woman to travel without a relative. He forbade building mosques over graves so that the dead
would not worshipped; proposing to a woman in 'idda so that she does not lie about her 'idda; the
sale and advance; the gift of the debtor; and fasting on the 'Id al-Fitr. In all the prohibitions of these
matters is out of fear of the evils which might result from them, even if the consequence is not
probable or definite.

Ash-Shatibi said in this topic:

"The Shari'a is based on circumspection and adopting discretion and being on guard against what
might lead to harm." (al-Muwafaqat, pt. 2, p. 253)

One must note what Ibn al-'Arabi stated in his book, The Judgements of the Qur'an, in the
discussion of the ayat on orphans. He explained that it is permitted for an orphan's guardian to
purchase the property of the orphan. It is derived from what he said that blocking means must be
adopted since the means leads to what is forbidden by text, not to the purely forbidden. He said:

"If it is said that Malik must have obliged leaving the root on account of suspicion and means when
in the permissibility of buying from an orphan girl, the answer is that he did not. He deals with is a
means in forbidden actions which will lead to things which are textually forbidden. In this case
Allah has allowed a form of mixing property and those who mix property are assigned their trust
when He says, "Allah knows the corrupter from the one who puts right." This is the case with every
perilous matter in which Allah Almighty has assigned the responsible person a trust which is not
said to be used as a means to something forbidden and thus forbidden, as Allah entrusted women
with responsibility for their private parts in spite of the enormity of judgements which might result
from their assertions in that, connection to the lawful and unlawful, and lineages, even if it is
possible that they lie." (Ahkam al-Qur'an, pt. 3, p. 65)

We see from this that he confirmed that means should be blocked when they lead to something
forbidden on which there is text, but anyone who studies the Maliki books on usul and secondary
rulings will see that that which leads usually leads to harm is forbidden without limitation about
whether there is a specific text on it, or it is included in the general prohibition of harm, injury and
from all corruption.

Facilitating means

We have mostly discussed the blocking of means, i.e. repelling the means of harm, and noted that
means are examined for their results. If it is harm, then it is mandatory to forbid it because harm is
forbidden and so what leads to it is forbidden. If it is a benefit, it is desirable to take it because
benefit is sought, and that is called 'facilitating means,' as the first is called 'blocking means'.
Facilitating means is used by Malik as well as blocking them. That is why al-Qarafi said in al-
Furuq, "Know that as it is mandatory to block the means, it is also mandatory to facilitate them, or
disliked, recommended and allowed. The means is the means. So as the means to the unlawful is
forbidden, the means to the mandatory is mandatory, like going to Jumu'a and Hajj." (pt. 2, p. 32)

In general what leads to a benefit is desirable like seeking this benefit. If it is mandatory, then it is
mandatory if it specifies the way to it. If the benefit is only permitted in it, the means in it is

Part of this is the necessity of crafts considered to be means to the general benefits on which
civilisation is based and with which people cannot dispense. It is obligatory that they be undertaken
in general, but it is not a specific obligation because all people are not asked to be artisans. They
only asked to bring into existence the crafts necessary for the establishment of civilisation. The
achievement of that obligation is enough.

Since the benefit is the desired purpose of laws, and the Islamic Shari'a makes it one of its ends, –
indeed the most manifest of its ends – when something forbidden leads to a confirmed benefit, and
the benefit is greater than the harm of the forbidden –or, more precisely, the harm averted by the
realisation of this benefit is greater than what develops from committing what is prohibited – then
that forbidden thing is moved to the rank of the legitimate in order to achieve that benefit or to repel
the greater harm. The following are examples of that:

1. Paying money to rebels to ransom Muslim captives. The basic position is that it is unlawful to
give money to a rebel because it strengthens him, and there is harm in that for the Muslims, but it is
permitted because it achieves the repelling of a greater harm: it prevents the enslavement of
Muslims and releases them and strengthens the Muslims through them.

2. One person paying money to another as a bribe and the like in order to protect himself from an
act of disobedience which he intends to commit whose its harm is greater than the harm of paying
him money.

3. Paying money to a hostile state to avert its harm when the Community of Muslims do not have
sufficient force to defend against the attack and protect the territory.

We see in all of those cases that the harm in something prohibited becomes desirable when it repels
a greater harm or procures a greater benefit. In this case, the aspect of harm is compared with what
it brings of benefit or averts of harm. What is considered is the aspect of the utility or the repelling
of the greater harm.

The principle of means was adopted by Malik and some fuqaha' have claimed that it was not one of
the usul of any of the fuqaha' except him, but the Malikis mentioned that the fuqaha' share with
them in many of their methods, even if they do not give the same name. Al-Qarafi said in Tanqih

"As for the means, there is agreement that there are three types: one of them is considered
consensus, like digging wells in the roads of the Muslims, putting poison in their food, and cursing
idols in the presence of someone when it is not known whether he will curse Allah Almighty. The
second is nullified by consensus like growing grapes which is not prohibited out of fear of wine.
The third is one which varies, like credit sales. We consider the means in it while other disagree
with us. The result is that we block means more than others, not that we alone have it." (p. 200)

In al-Furuq he clarified some of the details of the third type, on which there is disagreement, and he
said on it:

"There is disagreement among the scholars regarding it and whether is it blocked or not, like credit
sales. This is like when someone sells some goods for ten dirhams with a month's credit and then he
buys them for five before the month is up. Malik says that five is taken from his hand now and he
takes ten at the end of the month. This is a means to advance five for ten on credit in the form of a
sale. Ash-Shafi'i says that one looks at the form of the sale and applies the matter to its outward
form and so that is permitted. These sales are said to lead to a thousand questions which are
particular to Malik, and ash-Shafi'i opposed him about them...
"This is also like the disagreement about the liability of artisans because they alter goods by their
work so that their owners may not recognise them. So they are liable for damages in order to block
the means. It is not because it is employment where the basis of hire is on trust. That is also the case
in making food porters liable so that they do not filch some of it. It is frequent in these questions.
We say that the means are blocked but ash-Shafi'i did not say that. Blocking of means is not
particular to Malik. He does it more than others, but the basis of its blocking is agreed on." (p. 33)

We are inclined to believe that all scholars adopt the principle of means, even if they do not call it
that, but most of them consider the means to be the end when it is definitely a means to this end and
to any other definitely or probably. When the means is only specified by means of knowledge or by
means of probability, Malik utilised the principle of means in it. When the end frequently results
from the means, like credit sales which in many cases are desired to obtain usury, they are unlawful
because of this and the means to usury should be blocked. Others disagreed with him about that
because the the transaction is basically permitted, and that is only nullified by definitive or probable
evidence. There is no evidence of that sort, but only conjecture, and contracts are not invalidated by
pure conjecture. They are only invalidated for evident known or probable matters.

The principle of means is established by the Qur'an and the Sunna. In the Qur'an, it is the words of
the Almighty, "Do not curse those they call upon besides Allah, in case that makes them curse
Allah in animosity, without knowledge." (6:108) It is related that the idolaters said, "You refrain
from cursing our gods or we will curse your God." There are also the words of the Almighty, "O
you who believe, do not say, 'Ra'ina,' but say, 'Undhurna,' and listen well" (2:104) because the aim
of the Muslims is good, but the Jews used it as a means of abusing the Prophet.

As for the Sunna, the statements of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the
fatwas of his Companions are numerous. Part of that is his refraining from killing the hypocrites
since that would be a means for the unbelievers to say that Muhammad kills his Companions.

One example is that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade a lender to
accept a gift from a debtor unless he reckons to be part of the repayment of the debt. That is so that
that will not be means to delay the debt for the sake of the gift, which would be usury. Another is
that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade cutting off hands in the
expedition so that it would not be means for the one under a hadd to flee to the rebels. Part of it is
that the first forerunners of the Muhajirun and Ansar allowed a woman who had been irrevocably
divorced in her husband's final illness to inherit since there was the suspicion that he intended to
deprive her of inheritance, even if the aim of deprival was not established because divorce is a

Another is is that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade hoarding. He said,
"No one hoards except someone who does wrong." Hoarding is a means to constrict people in what
they need. There is no prohibition of hoarding what does not harm people, like jewelry and items
which are not part of necessities or needs.

Yet another example is that the Prophet forbade the one who gave charity to buy back his charity
even if he finds it being sold in the market, to bar the means of taking back what he gave for Allah,
even for recompense, and if the giver is forbidden to take his charity by paying for it, there is a
stronger prohibition against taking it without payment. To allow it to be taken for payment is a
means to deceive the poor person by giving him the charity of his property and then buying it from
him for less than its price. The poor person thinks that he has obtained some of his need and allows
the sale. It is like that with a lot of traditions related from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace and his Companions. Ibn al-Qayyim in I'lam al-Muwaqq'in gives about
ninety-nine traditions as evidence to support the prohibition in blocking means.

Means are borne in mind in half of the laws of Islam.

The principle of blocking or facilitating the means, according to al-QarafiÕs definition, is

considered from the aspect of consolidation of the principle of public interest which Malik adheres
to. He considers general benefit to be the outcome which the Lawgiver desires, esteems, calls for
and encourages, and so it is desirable to do anything that brings it about. Its opposite, which is
corruption, is forbidden. So all that is known to lead to benefit, definitely or probably or mostly,
even if it is not predominant, is desirable, and all that is known to lead, whether certainly or only
probably, to corruption must be avoided.
The Eleventh Source: Customs ('Adat)
and Customary Usage ('Urf)

Custom is a matter on which a community of people agree in the course of their daily life, and
common usage is an action which is repeatedly performed by individuals and communities. When a
community makes a habit of doing something, it becomes its common usage. So the custom and
common usage of a community share the same underlying idea even if what is understood by them
differs slightly.

Maliki fiqh, like Hanafi fiqh, makes use of custom and considers it a legal principle in respect of
matters about which there is no definitive text. In fact it has an even deeper respect for custom than
the Hanafi school since, as we have seen, public interest and general benefit are the foundation of
Maliki fiqh in coming to decisions and there is no doubt that respect for a custom which contains no
harm is one of the types of benefit. It is not valid for any faqih to leave it: indeed, it is obligatory to
adopt it. We find that the Malikis abandon analogy when custom opposes it. Custom makes the
general specific and qualifies the unqualified, as far as the Malikis are concerned.

It appears that the Shafi'ites also takes custom into consideration when there is no text. If text
dominates in its judgement because people are subject to and do it by way of familiarity and habit.
Nothing can prevent them from adopting it except a prohibiting text. Where there is no prohibiting
text, then it must be adopted. We find that Ibn Hajar stated that custom is acted on it when there is
nothing in the custom contrary to a text.

Al-Qurtubi observed that making use of custom in this way is taken from an instance when the
Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to the wife of Abu Sufyan, "Take from the
property of Abu Sufyan what is adequate for you and your child in a normal manner." In this hadith
custom is clearly made the basis of a legal decision. This is not the case with the Shafi'ites. Ibn
Hajar replies to this by saying that the Shafi'ites forbid acting by custom when it is opposed to a
legal text, or is not suggested by it. This indicates that the Shafi'ites occasionally adopt custom, but
with the precondition that a legal text suggests it or does not contradict it. Therefore we can divide
custom in respect to the usage of the fuqaha' into three categories:

1. Custom which is adopted by all the fuqaha'. It is the custom which is indicated by a text. In this
case, it is adopted by agreement.

2. Custom which is prohibited by an unequivocal text of the Lawgiver or it is obligatory that it be

overlooked as confirmed by a text. This type of custom is not respected nor adopted by consensus.
It is general corruption which must be brought to an end. Silence on it is silence about commanding
the correct and forbidding the incorrect and being content with sin and transgression.

3. Custom in which there is no established prohibition nor is it suggested or indicated by a text. The
Malikis and Hanafis consider it an independent principle. According to the Hanafis, general custom
makes the general specific, qualifies the unqualified, and custom is put ahead of analogy. The
Malikis say that custom specifies the general and qualifies the unqualified since they consider
custom to be one of the categories of benefit.
Custom or customary usage plays a great role in Maliki fiqh. It explains expressions since
expressions are explained according to linguistic custom or usage rather than customs in actions.
Ash-Shatibi says about this:

"Customs include those whose expression varies in meaning, and so the expression may change its
meaning in relation to the same people, like the difference of terminology according to the usage of
artisans in their crafts which differs from the usage of the majority, or in respect of the predominant
usage in some ideas so that that expression which previously had a certain meaning which might
have been understood as meaning something else. The judgement is assigned to what is customary
in respect to its normal usage rather than an abnormal usage. This is the sense which is current often
in oaths, contracts and divorce by indirect words." (Al-Muwafaqat, pt. 2, p. 198)

As expressions are explained according to customs, so customs have an effect on contracts. When
the custom in marriage is to pay the bride-price before consummation, it is considered as long as
there is no text contrary to it. If there is a custom that a type of sale is by cash and not credit or the
reverse, or for a known term rather than without it, that commercial custom is considered as long as
there is no text contrary to it. This resembles that on which judicial decision occurs by respecting
the custom of commerce in cases between them and its consideration as a confirmed legal basis in
their dealings.

In al-Furuq, al-Qarafi devotes a section to clarifying of the custom in contracts which affect it. Thus
if there is an non-specific contract, it is considered to involve equal shares. A contract for land
includes the trees and buildings, a contract for a building includes the earth, a contract on a house
which includes its doors, stairs, and shelves. A murabaha contract includes within the basis for the
price the wage for sewing, embroidery and all ornament. The contract on the tree includes the earth
and fruit which is pollinated, and so forth, as he said in mentioning these questions and others.

This is all based on customs. Were it not for customs, this would be purely arbitrary and selling
what is unknown, and risk in the price is not permitted by agreement. So these matters are based on
the customs. When the custom changes or is nullified, then these fatwas become invalid and it is
unlawful to give fatwa accordingly. Reflect on that. Study the fatwas in these customs and how they
are received as the legal tender of every age is studied and utility is specified from the items hired
when usage is silent about them, then they are used by the custom for the intended use of them.

Customs fall into two categories: first, established customs which do not differ in times or places.
They are customs derived from the natural human form, and that to which human nature calls, like
eating, drinking, sleep and other things. The second category are customs which vary with different
people and different lands. Ash-Shatibi mentioned that section and illustrated it, saying:

"Customs can change in it from good to ugly and the reverse, like uncovering the head. That varies
in different regions. In eastern lands it is considered offensive tor those of manliness it is ugly but
not in western lands. So the legal judgment varies according to that. Thus it detracts from good
character in the view of the people of the east but not with the people of the west." (al-Muwafaqat,
pt. 2, p. 198)

So custom varies in many cases, because the second category is larger than the first. When
judgements come in accordance with these customs and they are the basis of judgement in them,
does the judgement change when they change? Is the change considered as part of the Maliki
Al-Qarafi was asked this question and answered it. We will quote you the question and its answer in
full because it shows the extent of the effect of custom on judgements in that school and the amount
of its profusion. He says about selecting fatwas and judgements:

"These judgements in the schools of ash-Shafi'i, Malik and others were subordinate to customs and
the prevailing customary usage in the time when the scholars made these judgements. When those
customs change, then are these fatwas which are recorded in the books of the fuqaha' invalid and
fatwas given according to what is demanded by the new customs or do we say that we are imitators
and we cannot produce a law since we are not qualified for ijtihad and so we have to give fatwa
according to what is transmitted from the mujtahidun?
"The answer is that to confirm the judgements which are perceived through customs when those
customs have changed is contrary to consensus and is ignorance of the deen. Indeed, all that is in
the Shari'a follows customs and the judgement in it changes according to the change of custom to
what the new custom demands. That is not a new ijtihad on the part of the imitators so that the
qualifications for ijtihad are preconditional in it. It is a rule on which scholars strive agree. We
follow them in that without undertaking a new ijtihad. Do you not see that in the case of business
transactions when a price is designated, they apply that to the usual form of currency? When the
custom is a particular sort of money, they apply it to that. When the custom moves to another form
of currency, then the custom moves to it and the first is nullified since custom has moved from it. It
is like that with the application in bequests, oaths, and all the areas of fiqh which depend on
customs. When the custom changes, then the judgements in those areas change. It is the same with
claims when the statement taken is that of the person who claims something because it was the
custom. Then the custom changed and the statement taken was no longer that of the claimant.
Indeed, the case was reversed. It is not a precondition that the custom change. If we leave our land
for another land whose customs are different from the land we were in, we only give fatwa by its
custom rather than the custom of our land. Part of this is what is related from Malik: When a couple
quarrel about the receipt of the bride-price after consummation, then the statement taken is that of
the husband when the basis is lack of receipt. Qadi Isma'il said: 'This was their custom in Madina:
that a man did not go in to his wife until she had received all of the dower. Today the custom is
different. So the statement taken is that of the woman with the oath because of the change of
"Since this is established, I will mention in that some judgements in which what is perceived is the
custom is the basis of the fatwa and the actual situation differs from that today and so it is
incumbent to change the judgment according to what the new custom demands."

After that he gives examples of the custom which makes expressions specific and explains that. He
gives three examples:

1. Some of the expressions in the wadi'a (reduction): The custom demands that the two people
involved in the transaction agree that the reduction is one in ten for twenty, then they mean that if
the price is eleven, then its price is ten. The last expression means that it is reduced to half price. Al-
Qarafi said about that: "This custom is nullified. This expression does not convey that meaning
today at all. Most fuqaha' do not understand it, let alone the common people, because it has no
custom and nothing specific is understood from it in respect of language. So when this contract
occurs in transactions, the contract must be invalid. It is not their custom to use it at all because over
the course of our entire lives, we have not heard it except in the books of fiqh. We have not heard it
in transactions. When the price is not known by custom or not by language, the contract is invalid.

2. The second example is in tawliya (resale at cost price) and murabaha (resale with specification of
gain) when he says, "I have sold to you along with what it cost me," then he said that the sale is
valid. The seller has, along with the price, the wages for bleaching. embroidery, sewing, dyeing and
the like of that which has a specific value. He is entitled to his share of the profit if he names a
profit for every ten, and he is not entitled to what does not have a specific value unless it obliges an
increase in the market for it and increases the price. He does not have a portion of the profit for the
hire of transport in transporting it and the like and what has no effect in the market. He does not
have profit for things like concealment, locking up, the rent for the house, and the personal
expenses of the vendor. These items are not meant linguistically by his words, "what is cost me".
The sale is value by this statement if the expression demands it by custom and so the price becomes
known by custom and there is no retraction then. So this price is unknown and so we do not give a
fatwa of its validity and details by the books since the custom has changed.

3. He mentioned what is in the Mudawwana that when someone says to his wife, "You are unlawful
to me, or devoid of obligation, or exempt," or "I have given you to your family," the treble divorce
is obliged and the claim that he meant less than three does not help him. This is based on this
expression in the customary usage to remove the bond and it is famous that its number is three.

Although this is established, you know that you will not find any people who use this earlier form in
that way. Times have changed and no one says to his wife when he wants to divorce her, "You are
devoid of obligation" or "I have given you to your family." These expressions are not used to end
marriage nor to designate the number of the divorce. The custom in these expressions is completely
negated, When the custom is negated, only the language remains." (Al-Ahkam fi Tamyiz al-Fatawa,
p. 70)

Many judgements are based on 'urf because in many cases it coincides with public interest and
public interest is indisputably a fundamental principle in Malik's school. Another reason is that
custom necessarily entails people's familiarity with a matter, and so any judgement based on it will
receive general acceptance whereas divergence from it will be liable to cause distress, which is
disliked in the judgement of Islam because Allah Almighty has not imposed any hardship on people
in His deen.

Allah Almighty prescribes what normal people deem proper and are accustomed to, not what they
dislike and hate. So when a custom is not a vice and is respected by people, honouring it will
strengthen the bond which draws people together because it is connected to their traditions and
social transactions whereas opposition to it will destroy that cohesion and bring about disunity.

This especially applies where patterns of speech are concerned, since natural lucidity demands that
expressions be understood in accordance with customary usage. It is also desirable to apply custom
where commercial contracts are concerned as long as there is nothing unlawful in doing so. If there
is, however, it is of course obligatory to not adhere to custom.

These are the fundamental principles of Imam Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, which the
scholars of his school have derived from the corpus of the secondary rulings transmitted from him.
It is by means of them that his rulings were derived and upon them that they are based.

The first thing to be noticed about these principles is their flexibility. He did not make the
unqualified text of the Book or the Sunna unequivocal. He opened the door to making its general
texts specific and to qualifying what is unqualified. Just as he opened the door of specification, he
showed there to be flexibility in the texts which facilitated the means of deriving judgements from
them. A faqih should not be inflexible where the text is concerned, nor should he be excessively

The principles are all interconnected, one amplifying another, and so any unfamiliar meanings are
winnowed out in favour of a meaning derived from an immediate principle. From that there
emerges a mature fiqh that is strong, straightforward, familiar and known – one which people
readily accept.

The second thing to be noticed after the flexibility of these principles is their orientation towards
achieving the greatest benefit in the most direct manner. Analogy is made a way of achieving this.
Istihsan is employed to achieve it by preferring a ruling derived by it if analogy is less apt to
achieve the desired benefit. Consideration of public interest is made into a principle in order to
achieve it by the easiest way. Malik also employed the method of facilitating or blocking the means
which is also considered to be one of the fundamental principles used in deriving rulings. Then,
finally, he considered custom, which is another means of removing distress, averting hardship,
achieving benefit, and fulfilling people's needs.

Malik saw that the basic aim of the Divine Lawgiver in His Shari'a was to realise the greatest
benefit for the maximum number of people and so he made all his fiqh which was not based on an
unequivocal text centre on this principle. He supports it by facilitating and blocking the means and
other ways which lead to it, in order to achieve it by the quickest and easiest manner.

Thirdly, the principles which Malik used in deriving judgements are interconnected with and
complementary to one another. All are derived from the same source and follow the same guidance:
namely, the definitive text, its spirit and meaning and the ways in which the Prophet and the
Companions applied it. Hence his fiqh is aimed at the same goal: the welfare of people in this world
and the Next and following path of the Prophet and Companions without any innovation.

We find that Malik relies on the cases and fatwas of the Companions in recognising the objective of
the Shari'a and then recognises the judgements of those of the following generation with deep
knowledge of the texts and goals of the Shari'a and of its immediate and long-term consequences. In
so doing, Malik opened the same methodology for his students who came after him and their
students. They understood fiqh as he did and followed his way. So Maliki fiqh spread far and wide.

'adat: customs, customary practice; a legal Dhuhr: the midday prayer.

principle in the Maliki school.
faqih: pl. fuqaha', a man learned in
adhan: the call to prayer. knowledge of fiqh who by virtue of his
knowledge can give a legal judgement.
ahad (khabar): an isolated hadith; a report
which is transmitted through a single isnad or fatwa: an authoritative statement on a point
from a single source. of law.

ahl al-hall wa'l'Ôaqd: "the people of loosing fiqh: the science of the application of the
and binding," i.e. the 'ulama' (people of Shari'a. A practitioner or expert in fiqh is
knowledge), leaders and army commanders called a faqih.
who make binding decisions for the
community. Follower: a Tabi'i, one of the generation after
the Companions.
'amm: generally applicable, in reference to a
Qur'anic ruling. fuqaha': plural of faqih.

Ansar: the "Helpers", the people of Madina gharib: a hadith which has a single reporter
who welcomed and aided the Prophet. at some stage of the isnad.

awsaq: plural of wasq; a measure of volume hadith: reported speech of the Prophet.
equal to sixty sa's.
hajj: the annual pilgrimage to Makka which
ayat: a verse of the Qur'an. is one of the five Pillars of Islam.

balagha: pl. balaghat, a hadith in which the hadd: plural hudud. Allah's boundary limits
isnad is not mentioned, but in which the for the lawful and unlawful. The hadd
reporter quotes the Prophet directly. punishments are specific fixed penalties laid
down by Allah for specified crimes.
basmala: the expression "In the name of
Allah, the All-Merciful, the All- halal: permitted by the Shari'a.
haram: forbidden by the Shari'a.
bayan: clarification, elucidation, either the
substance of a meaning in the Qur'an or the hijra: emigration in the way of Allah,
clarifying the meaning of that substance. especially designating the emigration of the
Prophet from Makka to Madina.
deen: the life-transaction, lit. the debt
between two parties, in this usage between the hudud: plural of hadd.
Creator and created.
'idda: a period after divorce or the death of
dhahir: apparent; a dhahir text can have two her husband for which a woman must wait
or more meanings. before re-marrying.

dhawahir: plural of dhahir. 'Id al-Fitr: the festival at the end of the fast
of Ramadan.
ihram: the conditions of clothing and al-masalih al-mursala: Considerations of
behaviour adopted by someone performing public interest, human welfare, or utility not
hajj or 'umra. explicitly supported by a text.

ijma': consensus. mashhur: a hadith which is reported by more

than two reporters.
ijtihad: to exercise personal judgement in
legal matters. miqat: one of the designated places for
entering into ihram for hajj or 'umra.
iqama: the call which announces that the
obligatory prayer is about to begin. mudd: a measure of volume, approximately a
double-handed scoop.
isnad: a tradition's chain of transmission from
individual to individual. mufti: someone qualified to give a legal
opinion or fatwa.
istisfad: considering a hadith to be mashhur.
muhaddith: a scholar who transmits and/or
istishab: Presumption of continuity, or studies hadith.
presuming continuation of the status quo ante.
Muhajirun: the Companions of the
istihsan: to deem something good, juristic Messenger of Allah who accepted Islam in
preference; to decide in favour of something Makka and made hijra to Madina.
which is considered good by the jurist, over
against the conclusion that may have been mujmal: an undefined text which requires
reached by analogy. details and explanation.

Jahiliyya: the Time of Ignorance before the mujtahid: a scholar who is qualified to carry
coming of Islam. out ijtihad.

Jumu'a: the day of gathering, Friday, and munqati': broken or incontiguous, a hadith
particularly the Jumu'a prayer which is with a missing link in the isnad before the
performed instead of Dhuhr by those who Follower.
attend it.
mursal: a hadith whose where a man in the
kharaj: taxes imposed on revenue from land. generation after the Companions quotes
directly from the Prophet without mentioning
khass: specifically applicable, particular. the Companion from whom he got it.

li'an: mutual cursing, a form of divorce mutakallimun: those who study the science
which involves oath staken by the wife and of kalam, the science of investigating
husband when he accuses her of committing religious belief or theological doctrine.
mutawatir: a hadith which is reported by a
madhhab: a school of law founded on the large number of reporters at all stages of the
opinion of a faqih. isnad.

madrasa: a traditional place of study and muttasil: a hadith which an uninterrupted

learning. isnad.

nass: unequivocal or definitive text

nusus: plural of nass. involved is otherwise legal. Thus is something
is unlawful, the means to it is also unlawful.
qadi: a judge, qualified to judge all matters in
accordance with the Shari'a and to dispense sajda: the act of prostration.
and enforce legal punishments.
Salaf: the early generations of the Muslims,
qawa'id: general legal precepts which clarify particularly the Companions.
the method of using ijtihad in a school, and
the links which connect minor questions. Shari'a: The legal modality of a people based
on the revelation of their Prophet. The final
qibla: the direction faced in the prayer which Shari'a is that of Islam.
is towards the Ka'ba in Makka.
shirk: the unforgiveable wrong action of
qiyas: logical deduction by analogy. worshipping something or someone other than
Allah or associating something or someone as
rak'at: a unit of the prayer consisting of a a partner with Him.
series of standings, bowing, prostrations and
sittings. sunan: plural of sunna.

ra'y: opinion, a legal decision based on the Sunna: the customary practice of a person or
use of common sense and personal opinion, group of people. It has come to refer almost
used where there is no explicit guidance in the exclusively to the practice of the Messenger
Qur'an and Sunna and where it is not possible of Allah.
to use analogy.
tafsir: commentary or explanation of the
riba al-fadl: profit obtained by the superior meanings of the Qur'an.
value of a thing received over that of a thing
given. tawatur: the quality of being mutawatir.

Ridda: the defection of various Arab tribes 'urf: customary or known practices.
after the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace. usul: plural of asl, the basic principles of any
riwaya: a reading or transmission of a text.
waqf: also habous, an unalienable
sa': a measure of volume equal to four mudds. endowment for a charitable purpose.

sadaqa: charitable giving in the Cause of wudu': ritual washing, performed to be pure
Allah. for the prayer.

sadd adh-dhara'i': the legal principle of zakat: a wealth tax, one of the five Pillars of
blocking the means even if the method Islam.
People and Texts Mentioned

Abu Bakr: the first khalif after the al-Ahkam fi Tamyiz al-Fatawa: a book by al-
Messenger of Allah, born either two years or Qarafi
six years after the Year of the Elephant (51
years before the hijra). He was the best of the Ahkam al-Qur'an: a book by Ibn 'Arabi.
Companions. He died in 13/634 when he was
63 and was buried beside the Messenger of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: Imam of the Ahl as-
Allah. Sunna and founder of the Hanbali school,
born in Baghdad in 164/780. He was devoted
Abu Bakr al-Abhari: He lived in Baghdad to the Sunna so that he became its Imam in
and wrote many valuable books. It is said that his time. He learned fiqh from ash-Shafi'i. He
Maliki fiqh was established in Iraq through died in 241/855.
him. He was unique in being the only
successor to Isma'il ibn Ishaq in Iraq who was 'A'isha: Umm al-Mu'minin, the daughter of
competent in all areas of Maliki fiqh. d. 375. Abu Bakr and favourite wife of the Prophet.
She related 2210 hadiths from the Prophet.
Abu Hanifa: Abu Hanifa an-Nu'man ibn She died in Madina and was buried in al-Baqi'
Thabit, founder of the Hanafi school, one of in 58/678.
the four Imams, who developed ra'y (judicial
opinion). He died in 150/167. Al-Asamm: A Mu'tazilite. He is said to have
died in 850, although 816/8 seems more
Abu'l-Hasan al-Karkhi: A Hanafi faqih who likely. He was an extreme opponent of the
wrote al-Usul. d. 390. Shi'a.

Abu Hurayra: He became Muslim in the Asbagh ibn Faraj: the mawla of 'Umar ibn
year of Khaybar. He is considered to be one 'Abdu'l-'Aziz. He was a faqih of Egypt who
of the Companions with the greatest memory. related from Ibn Wahb, Ibn Qasim, Ashhab,
He died in Madina in 56/679 at the age of 77. ad-Da'udi and others. Al-Bukhari and others
related from him. Ibn Ma'in said, ÒHe had the
Abu'l-Husayn al-Basri: a Mu'tazilite faqih greatest knowledge of the opinion of Malik –
who died in 478/1085. He wrote al-Mu'tamid he was truthful, scholarly and scrupulous.Ó
fi usul l-fiqh, a major source of influence in He died in 225/839.
the field of usul until ar-Razi's Mahsul.
al-Ash'ari: Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali ibn Isma'il: He
Abu Sufyan: The leader of Quraysh against was born in Basra in 260/873-4, and was a
the Muslims, he became Muslim when Makka descendant of Abu Musa al-Ash'ari. He was
was conquered and was present with the first a Mu'tazilite, a follower of al-Jubba'i, but
Prophet at the Battle of Hunayn. He was the later left them. He became an unrivalled great
father of the Prophet's wife, Umm Habiba. He scholar, the Imam of the People of the Sunna
died in Madina in 31/652. and author of famous books. His Maqalat al-
Islamiyyin is the first of its kind.He died in
Abu Yusuf: born in Kufa in 113/731. Student 324 /936.
of Abu Hanifa and the first to propagate his
school. He was a hadith master and teacher of Ashhab: the Maliki faqih. He related from al-
three 'Abbasid khalifs, and made the Hanafi Layth, Malik and others, and Sahnun related
school the official state code. He was he first from him. He was also a pupil of Ibn Wahb.
to write on fundamentals of Hanafi fiqh. He He was the leading Maliki faqih in Egypt
died in Baghdad in 182/798.
after Ibn Qasim. He died eighteen days after excellent in Arabic and opposition to
ash-Shafi'i at the age of 64 in 204/819. inovation. He died in 167/784.

al-Awza'i: Abu 'Amr 'Abdu'r-Rahman, Imam al-Hasan ibn Ziyad al-Lu'lu'i: one of the
and founder of the madhhab followed by the famous students of Abu Hanifa and a faqih of
people of the Maghrib before they became Kufa. He wrote several practical works on
Maliki. He lived in Syria until he died as a law, including a handbook for qadis. He died
murabit in the port of Beirut. in 157/774. in Kufa in 204.

al-Bahja: a commentary on an abridgement Ibn Abi Zayd: al-Qayrawani: Maliki faqih, d.

of al-Bukhari written by Ibn Abi Jamra, an 386/996. He is known as Shaykh al-Faqih. He
Andalusian scholar (d. 1300). wrote ar-Risala and an-Nawadir.

al-Bannani: 'Abdu'r-Rahman b. Jad Allah, d. Ibn al-Anbari: One of the most

1173/1759, wrote a gloss on the Mukhtasar of knowledgeable in the area of literature and
Khalil. grammar. He wrote many books, especially
about the Qur'an. He has a book on the gharib
al-Baradha'i: Abu Sa'id: the greatest of the hadith. He was a leading grammarian among
students of Ibn Abi Zayd. Wrote several the Kufans. He died in Baghdad in 328.
books, a commentary on the Mudawwana
called Tamhid al-Mudawwana, an Ibn al-'Arabi: Qadi Abu Bakr Muhammad
abridgement of al-Mudawwana, and the Kitab ibn 'Abdullah al-Ishbili, d. 543/1148, the
at-Tahdhib. d. ca. 372. Maliki author of Ahkam al-Qur'an and several
other books.
al-Bazdawi: Also called Fakhr al-Islam,
Muhammad ibn Muhammad, d. 483/1100. He Ibn Hajar al-Haythami: Ahmad ibn
wrote Usul ad-din. He was a Hanafi. Muhammad, born in 909/1504 in Abu
Haytam, western Egypt, was the Shafi'i Imam
Bishr al-Marisi: he was prominent in of his time. He received permission to give
publicising the idea that the Qur'an was fatwas when he was barely 20. He died in
created and had his own gathering in Makka in 974/1567. He wrote many definitive
Baghdad. He was connected most of his life works on Shafi'i fiqh, esp. Minhaj at-Talibin,
with Kufa. He studied fiqh and hadith with Tuhfa al-Muhtaj, al-Fatawa al-Kubra, and az-
Abu Yusuf and hadith with Sufyan ibn Zawajir.
'Uyayna. He was probably executed in about
218/833. Ibn al-Hajib: 'Uthman b. 'Uthman, d.
646/1249, a Maliki faqih who wrote
Fakhr al-Islam: This refers to al-Bazdawi. Mukhtasar al-Muntaha fi'l-usul.

al-Ghazali: Muhammad ibn Muhammad, Ibn Hazm: 'Ali ibn Ahmad az-Zahiri, born in
Abu Hamid at-Tusi, the Shafi'i Imam and Sufi Cordoba in 384/994. He was the main
born in Tabiran, near Tus in 450/1058. He representative of the Zahirite school. He was
was nicknamed "Shafi'i the Second"). He died exiled to Labla in Andalusia where he died in
in Tabiran in 505/1111. He wrote many books 456/1064.
on various topics. In fiqh, his books include
al-Mustasfa and Jima' al-'Ilm. Ibn Jarir at-Tabari: see at-Tabari.

Hammad ibn Salama: (Abu Hanifa's Ibn Khaldun: 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn

teacher) Abu Salama al-Basri, the mufti of Muhammad, born in Tunis in 732/1332. A
Basra and a reliable narrator of hadith, philosopher and historian who travelled over
North Africa and Andalusia. He went to
Egypt where az-Zahir made him the Maliki Ibrahim an-Nakha'i: one of the great
qadi, but was dismissed for preferring his Followers in correctness, truthfulness,
native Tunisian dress to customary official transmission and memory of hadith, the faqih
robes. Wrote the seven volume al-'Ibar, the of Iraq. He was an Imam and mujtahid. He
world's first work on social theory. Died in died in 96/714
Cairo in 808/1406.
I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in: See Ibn al-Qayyim.
Ibn Najim: Ibrahim al-Misri al-Hanafi, d.
970/1563. Author of many books, including Imam of the two Harams: al-Juwayni who
al-Ashbah wa'n-Nadha'ir. wrote a nineteen volume, Nihaya al-Matlab
on the Shafi'i school. He was the shaykh of al-
Ibn Qayyim: Abu 'Abdullah al-Jawziyya, Ghazzali and died in Nishapur in 478/1085.
born in Damascus in 691/1292, a Hanbali
hadith scholar who wrote Zad al-Ma'ad. He 'Isa ibn Aban: a Hanafi faqih who studied
edited Ibn Taymiyya's works. He went to under ash-Shaybani and was qadi of Basra for
prison with him in Damascus and remained ten years d. 220/835
with him until Ibn Taymiyya's death in
728/1328. He died in Damascus in 751/1350. Qadi Isma'il: ibn Ishaq al-Azdi al-Basri: the
Author of I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in. qadi and scholar in all areas of knowledge and
in literature. He died in Baghdad in 282 AH.
Ibn Qutayba: a man of letters more than a
theologian. Born in Kufa in 213/828 and died Qadi 'Iyad: 'Iyad ibn Musa, Abu'l-Fadl al-
in Baghdad in 276/889. From 851 to 870 he Yahsubi, born in Ceutain 476/1083. The
was qadi of Dinawar in Kurdistan, but from Imam of the western Muslim lands in hadith
871 on he devoted himself to teaching. His and Arabic, a gifted Maliki scholar who wrote
views were close to those of Ibn Hanbal. He a number of books, especially the Tartib al-
has works on many subjects, including 'Uyun Madarik and ash-Shifa'. Was a qadi in Ceuta,
al-Akhbar and Kitab al-Ma'arif. then Granada and then Marrakesh and died of
poison in 544/1149.
Ibn Rushd: Abu'l-Walid Muhammad ibn
Ahmad: a Maliki jurist and qadi, Imam of the al-'Izz ibn 'Abdu's-Salam: nicknamed "the
Great Mosque of Cordoba, grandfather of the Sultan of the Scholars", a Shafi'i scholar and
philosopher of the same name (Averroes) mujtahid, educated in Damascus, later qadi
1058-1126. Author of al-Muqaddamat. and Imam in Cairo. He produced a number of
books on all subjects. His masterpiece was
Ibn Shihab az-Zuhri: a faqih and hadith Qawa'id al-Ahkam fi masalih al-anam. He
scholar, one of the most knowledgeable of the died in Cairo at the age of 81 in 660/1262.
Followers. 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz wrote to
all regions, ÒYou must have Ibn Shihab. You Kashf al-Asrar: a book by the Hanafi, 'Ala'
will not find anyone with more knowledge of al-Bukhari (d. 730/1329-30) on the Usul ad-
the past sunna than him.Ó He died in din of al-Bazdawi.
Khalil: ibn Ishaq al-Jundi: Maliki mufti of
Ibn Sirin: Muhammad al-Basri, the client of Cairo and teacher at the Shaykhuniyya (d.
Anas ibn Malik, the Imam of his time in the 1365 or 1374). He wrote al-Mukhtasar, one of
sciences of the deen in Basra, a Follower who the most popular compendiums of Maliki
was reliable in fiqh and hadith and is related fiqh.
from by the Six Imams. He died in 110/729 at
the age of 80. al-Layth ibn Sa'd: al-Fihri al-Misri: Abu
Harith, the excellent faqih and a Follower of
the Followers who died in 175 AH. Malik
said that he was one of the people of al-Qarafi: Shihab ad-din Ahmad b. Idris
knowledge. Egyptian Maliki, d. 684/1285. He wrote
Sharh Tanqih al-Fusul fi'l-Usul, al-Ahkam fi
al-Madarik: see Qadi 'Iyad Tamyiz al-Fatawa, and al-Furuq.

Malik ibn Anas: Abu 'Abdullah al-Asbahi al- al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr:
Himyari, born in Madina in 93 AH, the one of the seven fuqaha' of Madina, the
famous Imam of Madina in fiqh and hadith. nephew of 'A'isha. He died in 108/725 He
One of the four Imams. It is enough that ash- learned from 'A'isha and Ibn 'Abbas. He had
Shafi'i was one of his pupils. He wrote al- incredible knowledge of the Sunna.
Muwatta'. He died in Madina in 179/795.
Qatada ibn Di'ama: He was Basran and was
al-Mazari: Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn born in 61/680. He was a hadith scholar and
'Ali, d. 536/1141, a Maliki scholar of Sicilian mufassir. He was the chief disciple of al-
origin who settled in al-Mahdiyya, who wrote Hasan al-Basri. Ibn Hanbal called him "the
a commentary on al-Burhan by al-Juwayni. most learned person in Basra." He died of the
plague in 118/736.
al-Marwazi: a transmitter of the Sahih al-
Bukhari. d. 371/981. al-Qurtubi: Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abi
Bakr Farh, Abu 'Abdullah al-Ansari al-
al-Mudawwana: the famous Maliki legal Qurtubi, of Cordoba, a Maliki scholar and
compendium of Sahnun. hadith scholar, one of the greatest Imams of
tafsir, a zahid who divided his days between
Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani: A writing and worship. His tafsir is al-Jami' li-
mujtahid Imam who was educated by Abu ahkam al-Qur'an in 20 volumes. He travelled
Hanifa, Abu Yusuf and Malik. Harun to the east and settled in Munya Abi'l-
appointed him qadi in Baghdad. He was one Khusayb in Upper Egypt where he died in
of the shaykhs of ash-Shafi'i. He wrote many 671/1273.
books and died in Rayy in 189/804.
Rabi'a (ar-Ra'y): Rabi'a ibn 'Abdu'r-
al-Muqaddamat: A book by Ibn Rushd Rahman, famous faqih of Madina. d. 136.

al-Mustasfa min 'ilm al-usul: book by al- Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab: Imam of the
Ghazali. Followers, a master of both fiqh and hadith.
He was born in the last two years of the
al-Muwafaqat: a book by ash-Shatibi. khalifate of 'Umar. He died in Madina in
al-Muwatta': Malik's compendium of fiqh
and hadith. as-Sayrafi: Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn
'Abdullah, the Shafi'i faqih, d. 330 AH.
al-Muzani: Born in 175/791 in Egypt, a
Shafi'i mujtahid who wrote al-Mukhtasar Seven fuqaha': in Madina the seven
about Shafi'i fiqh. He died in 264/878. Followers who were famous for their
transmission of fiqh: Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab,
Nafi': the client of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar. He 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr, al-Qasim ibn
grew up in Madina to become the mufti and Muhammad, Kharija ibn Zayd, Abu Bakr ibn
Imam of the Tabi'un, and he was the teacher 'Ubayd, Sulayman ibn Yasar, and 'Ubaydullah
of the Imam Malik. He died in Madina in ibn 'Abdullah.
ash-Sha'bi: Abu Amr 'Amir ibn Sharahil, a
Qadi Abu Bakr: see Ibn 'Arabi. Follower famous for his intelligence. He was
the companion of 'Abdu'l-Malik. He was one at-Tanbihat: book by Qadi Iyad. It is a
of the reliable men of hadith and died in Kufa commentary on the Mudawwana.
in 104 /721.
al-Tanqih, Tanqih al-Fusul: a book by a-
ash-Shafi'i: He is the founder of one of the Qarafi.
four madhhabs. He wrote al-Umm and ar-
Risala. He died in 204/820. At-Tufi al-Hanbali: Sulayman, d. 716.
Hanbali author of a Risala.
ash-Shatibi: Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Musa al-
Gharnati, d. 790/1388) A Maliki faqih who 'Umar ibn al-Khattab: the Amir al-
wrote al-I'tisam and al-Muwafaqat. Mu'minin. A Companion and one of the
strongest defenders of Islam. He became
As-Subki: 'Ali ibn 'Abdu'l-Kafi, born in Khalif after Abu Bakr in 13 AH. He was
Subk, Egypt in 683/1284, a Shafi'i scholar and murdered by Abu Lu'lu'a in 23 when he was
mujtahid. He wrote more than 150 books 63. His khalifate had lasted 10 years and 6
including at-Takmila, Fatawa as-Subki, and months.
al-Ibhaj fi Sharkh al-Minhaj. In 739 he
moved to Damascus where he was made a 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz: He was a Follower
qadi. Eventually he returned to Cairo where and a great Imam. People say he was the sixth
he died in 756/1355. of the khalifs. He related from 'Abdullah ibn
Ja'far, Anas, Ibn al-Musayyab and others. The
Sufyan ibn 'Uyayna: one of the scholars and Six Collections transmit from him. He died in
Imams from whom the compilers of the Six 101 AH when he was 40. He was Khalif for
Sahih has transmitted. He was one of the two years and five months. His virtues are
Followers of the Followers. He met eighty-six famous.
of them. He lived in Makka. He was born in
107 AH and died in 198/813 Yahya ibn Sa'id: A qadi in Madina and then
in Iraq. A major figure in early science of
at-Tabaqat: a book by as-Subki. hadith. Died in al-Hashimiyya, Iraq, in
at-Tabari: Muhammad ibn Jarir Abu Ja'far,
one of the scholars and author of famous Zayd ibn Aslam: the faqih, the client of
books, especially his large history. He was 'Umar, He is reliable and his hadith are sound.
from Tabaristan and was born in 224/839 and He related from Ibn 'Umar and Jabir. The
died in 310/923. He has a large and widely- authors of the Six transmit from him. He died
used tafsir of the Qur'an called Jami' al-bayan in 136 AH.
known as Tafsir al-Tabari. He also had his
own school of fiqh. Zufar: one of the more prominent pupils of
Abu Hanifa. He died in Basra in 158 at the
age of 48.